Divya’s Story

One might imagine that sending a child to school would be a relative easy affair – provide a uniform, pay annual school fees, purchase some pencils and notebooks – sounds doable, right?

DSC01387aHowever, the factors that affect this child’s success (or lack thereof) at school are much deeper and more complicated than that. Problems at home are often the root cause of poor academic performance, behavioral issues, and inconsistent attendance. Ensuring the health and welfare of families is a crucial aspect of providing educational opportunities for AIC’s students and we don’t have to search very far to witness the impact of this approach—we see it every day in students like Divya (name changed).

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Unsung Heroines

Being a maushi (“aunt,” or, the generic term for the cleaning women/before-school supervisors/kitchen manager/pre-school aides at AIC) at the Education Outreach Centre is certainly not the most…glamorous job imaginable.  

Paru maushi, supervising

Cleaning the centre multiple times a day, food prep and service, maintenance work, hauling water, bathing unruly children, combing lice out of said unruly children’s hair, taking out the trash, washing an endless stream of school uniforms by hand – the AIC maushis are truly the backbone of the program’s day-to-day functioning. 

Laundry, never-ending laundry
Hauling water from the underground tank
Swati maushi

Claudia, Education Program Director, had been looking for an opportunity to show them a little appreciation, and when she heard that a full-scale replica of the Taj Mahal was coming to Pune and would be on display not far from the Education Centre, she decided that a maushi excursion was in order.  

In front of the Taj replica

Having rarely been outside of Yerwada, and certainly never to a world heritage site, seeing the Taj Mahal replica was a rare treat for the group! 

Admiring the details
With Claudia didi

Thank you, Pinchu, Anju, Paru, Rekha, Swati, Chhaya and Sarika maushis for all that you do at AIC!

Starting off on the right foot

Six-year-old Arjun, one of our new students in the AIC Education Outreach Program, is having an eventful start to the new school year… 

Arjun (in red) and his new friends at the AIC Education Outreach Centre

Arjun’s parents are masala (spice) sellers from the Waghri community, earning about 2,000 rupees ($40) per month to support him and his four older siblings.  Last year, his oldest brother Umesh was the only one in his family who was granted admission into the AIC Education Outreach Program, due to limited space.  Umesh worked hard as a 10th standard student, and, with the guidance and support of his teachers at AIC, has now graduated from secondary school and moved on to college (11th standard).  This spring, his four younger siblings, including Arjun, were excited to be offered spots in the Education Outreach Program as well.

Arjun

Shortly after his admission into the program, it quickly became apparent that Arjun has a problem with his right eye, and after some initial medical investigation, we scheduled a cataract surgery to correct the condition.  As is often the case in these particular slum communities, Arjun had never previously attended school at the time of his enrollment in the Education Outreach Program.  This means that in the span of three months, he started school for the first time (1st standard, English-medium), began attending the AIC Education Outreach Program for daily meals and tutoring, and – last but definitely not least – will be having cataract surgery later this week!  

It has truly been a busy three months for this little guy, and we can’t wait to see how he continues to grow and develop once his eyesight improves and he settles into his new school and tutoring routine!