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4 year old Sarika comes from Chenguta district in Andhra Pradesh. 8 years ago, her family shifted to Andheri area in Mumbai in search of better livelihood and job opportunities. Her family includes her parents, her siblings (6 and 7 year old brothers) and her grandmother. Due to extremely poor socio-economic conditions and no other available jobs for them in this city, her parents have undertaken rag picking on the streets of Mumbai and live in a small hut made of paper and bamboo.

Sarika and her parents were introduced to Mumbai Smiles Foundation when one of the teachers went for survey and mobilisation in their area of residence. Sarika was immediately enrolled as a student in the Preschool Education project. Initially she was very weak and looked malnourished, but after getting enrolled in this preschool program, her health has improved drastically and visibly. She has learnt new things developed self-confidence, and underwent a positive transformation of physical and psychological development. Now, she has become very enthusiastic as a student and as a child and is eager to go to school every day and even readies herself everyday without disturbing anyone else and without creating any fuss and goes to school.

This project has tremendously impacted Sarika’s family members as well. Her parents have indeed benefited and gained a lot of knowledge and awareness. As her parents said, “We have learnt valuable lessons of cleanliness and about how to be more respectful in our communication with others. Through parent-teachers meetings, we have realized the importance of education, health, and hygiene as also about how to prevent and recognize the symptoms of diseases like Tuberculosis, Dengue, Malaria, and epilepsy etc.”

To see such positive changes in an entire family is a huge motivation for us and a mark of success of our teachers, since they, who themselves belong to the very same community where they teach, are the ones imparting valuable information to the parents about their child’s health and educational needs and we are very happy to see such positive results!

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