Mumbai Smiles runs 12 preschools with places for a total of 273 children. Three of these centres, located in the Kamathipura and Ghatkopar neighbourhoods of Mumbai, cater to children of survivors of trafficking. The remaining nine are located in the Govandi and Aarey Colony areas and serve children from homeless families who are at high risk of being trafficked.
In each preschool, students learn basic skills for the subsequent cycle of compulsory education. At the same time, children have access to vaccination campaigns and receive a daily lunch to help reduce malnutrition levels. These lunches are prepared by groups of women from the community itself, who organise themselves into self-organised groups (SHGs).
We hold information meetings with parents to ensure that families are involved in the educational life of their children. We also place emphasis on keeping pre-school teachers and assistants trained and motivated.
Health and nutrition
In the area of health, all pupils receive medical check-ups and follow-up on various health-related issues. In addition to nutritional support, monthly height and weight records are kept to detect possible cases of malnutrition and to intervene by involving and informing the families or making hospital referrals for the most severe cases.
The project has been running successfully since its inception in 2010, and has gradually expanded its coverage, the range of activities on offer and the quality of teaching. It has also involved 130 women who are responsible for preparing the daily lunches for the participating children and who are paid a salary for their work.
The success of the Preschool Education programme led us in 2018 to promote the Sustainable Preschools project, whereby 19 of the preschools that we had been managing from Mumbai Smiles will now be managed by their respective teaching teams, without any intervention on our part.