Breaking Out!

Post a Comment » Written on December 1st, 2009     
Filed under: Community Development

Last week Ronna and I visited the Deonar Landfill in Mumbai, one of the largest dumps in Asia. Everyday 1200 trucks dump 6000 tons of garbage in this 320 acre dump. Deonar is the home and worksite of thousands of “rag picker” children who sort through the garbage looking for items to recycle in order to supplement the family income. For this reason most of these child laborers never attend formal schools.  The Hindustani Covenant Church has been working with these rag picker children for many years. In recent years both CWR and Covenant World Mission have become partners in this program.

After receiving permission from their parents to allow the children to take a break for two hours a day, HCC provides non-formal education, a nutritional meal, and regular health checks.  They also meet regularly with the parents encouraging them to allow their children to enroll in government schools. Most parents are reluctant to let their children go to school because they feel that they need the income from their children to survive.  The HCC workers explain that without education there is little hope that the children will ever be able to break out of this cycle of poverty.

I started visiting these sites about five years ago.  At that time there were almost no children attending school. Now in each of the three HCC rag picker program sites we visited there were several children enrolled in the local government schools.  When we asked the children what they would like to do when they grow up, the responses included doctor, teacher, policeman, and CID agent (India’s equivalent of the FBI). Through this HCC program the rag picker children have been given hope and are able to dream about a brighter future.

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