Mumbai Smiles offers preschool education in the Govandi and Aarey Milk Colony slums, for 213 children of homeless families. In addition to educational support, the project offers health programmes, vaccination campaigns, and daily nutritional supplements.
To offer under 6-year-old street children living in Govandi and Aarey Milk slums with access to preschool education, in order to improve and widen their life opportunities. In each school, the pupils are taught basic education to improve their learning, are provided access to vaccination campaigns, and are given daily meals thereby contributing to their nourishment. Nutritional meals are prepared by women from the community who work in Self-Help Groups (SHG)
The project has been running successfully since its launch in 2010, and has steadily widened its geographical coverage and range of activities. The project has also greatly improved the educational level, where currently education is provided to 982 pupils across 30 preschool centres. Furthermore, 130 women involved in the project are in charge of preparing daily meals for the boys and girls, thus serving as an income generation opportunity for them.
We carry out briefing sessions with parents to ensure that families are involved in the educational life of their children. Also, we emphasize on the importance of keeping the teachers and their assistants highly motivated and well trained. For this purpose, training sessions on innovative teaching methods are organized regularly.
Regarding health issues, every child is provided with medical check-up and regular follow up on their health status. Together with nutritional support, monthly records of height and weight are maintained to identify possible malnutrition cases. Severe cases are referred to hospitals, and nutritional counselling is provided to parents.
In 2018, there was a detailed revision of the learning curriculum taught in preschools. This new methodology focuses on each boy or girl, and aims at enhancing their own abilities and competences, at fostering their curiosity and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning process.
In 2016 the project was launched in the tribal area of Aarey Milk Colony, a place with no access to basic resources. There are three preschool centres that cover the educational needs of the boys and girls who live in these settlements.
Also, from 2018 two new preschool centres located in the area of Govandi for street boys and girls was launched. In 2019 four other preschool centres were opened in the same area.
Life conditions in Govandi are especially difficult since the area is basically a huge landfill that is fed by tonnes of daily waste generated by Mumbai. Thousands of families live in this landfill, and also live on it, since their survival depends on rummaging in the rubbish in search of anything that can be sold or even eaten.
The project is of great relevance in this area since it offers an alternative for these young girls and boys to improve their future life prospects. Besides access to education, they are given nutritional supplements and health care guidance. They are also offered a safe place to stay while their families are at work.
The success of our Preschool Education project has resulted in the launch of the Sustainable Preschool Centres Project, where 19 preschool centres previously run by us, are now independently run by their own teaching teams.