After Project Mala
"What happened to the child I was sponsoring?" This question is asked regularly by sponsors, who are interested to know if the education they are funding at Project Mala has any lasting benefit to the children.
We are also keen to know this and have made a special effort to keep in touch with past students through reunions and surveys. The survey carried out in 2002 is on our website and the second has just been completed, which is in more depth and involved personal interviews with past students.
The latest study was carried out by a team of faculty members from the School of Social Sciences and School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Professor Mondira Dutta has sent me some stories, all of which are a compelling read. I set out two below and will send the others in follow up emails.
Raju was admitted to Project Mala Mujehra school in 1999. Due to poverty, his parents withdrew him from school in 2001 to take a job as a weaver using the skills he learned in Project Mala's vocational training. He was clearly very bright, as after a while he started his own business. He now employs 16 other weavers and runs a successful carpet weaving business.
He earns Rs 10,000 (£100) per month which is five times the average in the area. He is married and has a two year old daughter. He says that education gave him the confidence to branch out on his own. He still lives in the area and has seen the development of the Project Mala schools and wishes he had been able to go on to further education.
Vandana was admitted into Project Mala Patehra school in 2002 and passed out in 2005. She then went on to further education to grade ten at a Government college.
She is now a supervisor for a Government scheme that promotes education and healthcare in tribal areas. Vandana earns Rs 5,000 (£50) a month and is responsible for a cluster of 50 villages. She says she wants to change the awareness of villagers about education and healthcare, as she would have grown up illiterate if the social workers at Project Mala had not persuaded her parents to let her attend school.
She also feels that without education people are just like animals, to be controlled by others. Vandana is still studying by correspondence course. She was married last year but says that she is not planning a family until she and her husband are financially secure.
Vandana on the left with her sister and family