IVE Children, Amritsar

 

A Case Study of Initiative for Viable Education For Underprivileged Children

 

Initiatives for Viable Education for Underprivileged children (herein after referred to as IVE) is an organization working for the education of children in and around Amritsar city.

At present IVE has more than 120 poor children. IVE is running two school projects. In  the first group, there are 35 little children.  In the second group there are about 90 children who come in the evening. IVE admits them to other schools by paying for their annual funds  for their education. IVE runs two shifts due space constraints. Annual charges per students come approximately Rs. 7,800 per annum and IVE is getting help from some kind and  generous people who sponsor their annual education. There is no institutionalized support, nothing as yet despite the media being very supportive. It is worth mentioning that all the Children in IVE's school come from daily wagers, some are single parents siblings, some have only have mothers who have been separated from  their husbands. The daily wagers are like rickshaw pullers, painters, maid servants, rag pickers, shoe menders, labourers or chowkidars etc. Most of them are drunkards and so IVE's intervention is right inside their homes also as IVE monitors  if  any kind  of 'abuse' is happening there.

 

This institution is the brain child of Pearl Jasra who herself is an orphan. Pearl Jasra is not only a name but also an institution in herself. Pearl's parents died in (1998-99). She was left all alone as she had no close relative except a maid servant who had been living with the family for some years. The maid used to come with an orphan girl  with whom Pearl used to play after coming back from her school. Pearl used to teach Kamini alphabet while doing her home work. All this went on for a couple of years. In 2001, Pearl thought of having a couple of more poor children with her to fill her time, and play. Besides she wanted to teach them without taking any money. She began to feel good when they called her Didi. Her institution IVE was started with 12 children from poorer families. In the initial stage, Pearl Jasra had a difficult time to meet the needs of the children like books and stationary due to lack of any external financial support. However, committed to her mission. Pearl Jasra didn’t get demotivated and reached out to the people for financial support. With local support and initiative the institution had 37 children in the year 2007. The institution developed methodologies best suited for the extremely poor children so they began to read and write with pebbles, twigs, ice-cream sticks etc and used less and less paper and note books. Now they started feeling the urgency to go green and also started celebrating all birthdays.

 

Apart from child's education, IVE has been very proactive in empowering women from the poorer strata of the society. By 2010, IVE could identify  several maids who were actually good at needle work but they did not have any places to go to work and earn  ( there were hardly any boutiques because they live in villages). IVE gave them wooden grids, clothes, casments, threads and needles etc. and saw that they were really good as their word. This was another step to provide them with opportunity of dignified work with wages. Their embroidery skills were rejuvenated for one month and they found their lost touch. Now they were free  to embroider anything they gave them as designs. They are now making phulkari, the famous bridal shawl, cloth that is embroidered while women sing of seasons, marriage, love and colors. The  special “putt” thread is used on coarse cotton khadi cloth befitting phulkari  traditionally. They are paid Rs. 20 per hour. Earlier the house maids were making only Rs. 350 for washing clothes and so on . But here they make close to 3500 Rs. per month and IVE can see many of them have bought new box-beds, almirahs and clothes etc. Apart from this she provides health  tonics and Haematonics to them regularly.

Till now IVE has completed 7 years and a huge body of work ( by the girl who lives alone). She has never had any  institutionalized support ever. The local MP, other leaders and the Mayor all know about IVE work and give a  lot of appreciation, awards and nice words but never give any concrete financial help or support in the shape of land so that IVE can expand her work. IVE is happy as there are some kind and rich people who now extend help but they do not help  IVE expand the home into a holistic center because it is Pearl's home and they will not help her unless she has land elsewhere. IVE have 58 girls ( age 4-16) and 75 boys (age 4 to 14) today. And the girls are learning  several skills which will help them make decent pocket money in the weeks and months to come. Same applies to boys too. Some of whom have been involved in the local cricket club as they want to rise and shine. IVE's dream is to have its own school, a free school where education and earning skills go hand in hand , where these poor children learn the dignity of work done with human hands. IVE is planning a workforce that can be an add-on to the retail sector too. Someday IVE will have it, someday these children will grow up and join the mainstream of vibrant citizenry and will not be the parasites as they are widely branded. The are daily told by IVE that they are the service providers hence valuable pillars of our society. IVE Children has a website by the same name- www.ivechildren.com. It is registered with the government. It also has income tax exemption given by government of India for life time.

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