We are very happy to announce that a new preschool centre has now open up by Mumbai Smiles for the street children and this is a milestone achieved for us, thanks to all our donors, partners and collaborators!
With 27 preschool centres running across the city of Mumbai, right from Khetwadi in South Mumbai to Vikroli in North Mumbai, the Preschool Education project has been one of our most successful and longest running projects that has been working relentlessly to ensure Right to Education for thousands of children over the past decade. These children, who belong to some of the most underprivileged communities of our city, have now become a part of the Mumbai Smiles family. But even after all these years, there was always a need felt to go beyond and reach out to more children. This is when we could finally intervene into reaching out to the street children of Govandi area.
Govandi is a locality closer to Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai) and one of the most neglected areas at that! The location of our new preschool centre is in fact right next to the Highway that links Mumbai to Navi Mumbai and hence is an area full of properties under construction. At such a juncture, there are small hubs of shanties made up of some asbestos sheets or jute bags, enough to just protect themselves from the sun and the pollution of the road and nearby highway and construction dust.
With nothing but just about enough utensils and clothes, the parents of this community are able to earn barely enough for two meals a day since most of them are daily wage labourers only. And that is why for this, and only this preschool, we waived away the Rs. 50/month school fees as well (it is an important practice otherwise to ensure that the parents value the importance of their money and ensure regularity and punctuality of their child’s school and education).
For the team of the Preschool project, it was indeed a very difficult task to convince the parents of the children to send them to our preschool, instead of engaging them in labour work, begging, selling toys etc at traffic signals or simply shutting them at home during their own work hours, because of the severe financial situation.
But with the classes now running regularly, the teachings paying attention to each of the child individually in terms of education, health and nutrition, both the children and the parents are extremely happy with the Preschool centre. And we couldn’t be happier to see these children happily enjoying their pre-primary education!