Helping Girls into Education

Posted by Helen 
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Education and status of girls in India is improving.

It is not a smooth or fast road, and heavily dependent on general economic development. In a nutshell, if a daughter is not needed to work at home or look after younger siblings then she can attain education, and thus status, and even employment.

In Goa, one of the most advanced Indian States, the girls that generally fall between the cracks are usually from poorer States, living as itinerant workers or in the pocket slums that ring the main towns. These are exactly the kids that Helping Elsewhere supports through the work of Sujata Noronha at Bookworm, a pioneering literacy organisation that takes literacy to where it is needed by means of diverse projects.

Helping Elsewhere has provided her with a little red van that she drives into the heart of these marginal communities, armed with a range of large ‘show and tell’ books, a selection of books in multiple languages that teach the kids the concepts of a library and borrowing books (they probably have only ever had newspaper wrappings as reading material to this point) and some basic art materials to bring out the kids’ hidden talents and keep their interest.

‘School’ is a set of mats on the floor of a rented room, or just on the dirt floor in front of a temple. The ‘scholars’ get a Bookworm bag and a personalised ID badge. As possibly the first things they have ‘owned’, these are highly treasured. The late afternoon session usually starts with a shy face appearing around the side of a doorway – many others then follow this lead. It is usually a rumbustious affair, but the kids are always genuinely keen on learning and playing their part. Books are lent out to regular attendees and even the acts of borrowing and giving back have to be taught from first principles. But young kids are eager and flexible and soon grasp the advantages. It is always a fantastic and rewarding atmosphere.

The goal is to attract more of the girls in these communities. And to do this we know we need to gain the trust of their mothers. Most of the girls will be young – without the responsibilities of older siblings – but girls of all ages (even well into their teens) are welcomed. None are expected to have any reading skills at all. The kids, once they get involved, seem to be good at teaching each other, but personalised teaching fills the gaps.

This is education in its rawest form, but it produces very effective results.

Helping Girls into Education

And this leads very neatly on to an event that one of our great supporters, Diana Boulter, with Stargazer Events, is helping to organise…

On the evening of 8th April at the Cobham Hilton (in Surrey, near where the A3 crosses the M25) Diana is organising a “Dinner for Wonderful Women” in direct opposition to the fashionable St George’s Day dinners for the men.

Tickets (for you girls only!) are just £45 for earlybirds (and still only £55 after Valentines Day) and much merriment is guaranteed. Diana is expecting to raise £1500 to go towards promoting girls’ education in Goa, and I’m going to be there playing my part of course.  This is going to be one wonderful night!

Further details and tickets are available through Diana or one of the team on 01932 228544 or from myself.

I hope to see loads of you girls there!!!


One Response to “Helping Girls into Education”

  1. Diana Boulter says, February 10th, 2014 at 12:25

    Hi Helen and Colin: great to read your news. Tickets are selling well for the “Dinner for Wonderful Women” on Tuesday 08 April, but we have room for more ladies! I’ve extended the “early bird” discount until Friday 28th Feb – so you save £10 by booking early, ladies! With the help of so many talented women attending for a fun evening,I know we’ll be able to make a BIG difference to Helping Elsewhere’s work for girls’ education in Goa. Love, Diana x

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