Once women start earning a living, and have their basic needs taken care of, step two is to ensure a better future for their children. Since most of our programme members are illiterate, they see education as the answer to lifting them out of poverty.
Qualifying members of the women’s cooperative(N.S.S.) apply for education assistance at Rs. 200 INR per year (USD 2.81) in addition to the service they must perform once a month at Hayden Hall.
Quarterly meetings help us keep in touch with families and especially useful since there are often problems of alcoholism and drug addiction tearing apart the joint family structure. These problems together with those of economics and traditional gender bias have made children (especially girls) more vulnerable to a deprivation of education.
Crèche is a day care centre which offers a safe place, food and bed to the children from 9 months to 2.5 years. It was started in 1976. Its focus is on families with working mothers below the poverty line. It remains open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
A major stumbling block for women
who want to work outside their homes is a lack of day care facilities.
Availability to this facility is an integral part of women’s empowerment, so
Hayden Hall has been operating a crèche since 1976 for children under the age
Her parents are assured a safe, hygienic and healthy environment for their children. The crèche is staffed by a full-time governess and by members of the women’s cooperative who are obligated to donate one day a month in lieu of any payments for the services they and their children receive.
The creche opens at 9am. The children are fed 3 nutritious meals a day: porridge with milk fortified with vitamins in the mornings, a balanced lunch consisting of rice, lentils and vegetables and an afternoon snack of an enriched pre-mix made with milk.
Strive was set up in the year 1976. It works as a preparation centre for the children to get admission in the schools, offering a safe place, food and bed for children between 2.5 and 4.5 years.
Step two of the child care services is a pre-school education program called “Strive”. Using Montessori methods, it aims to stimulate children from economically and socially disadvantaged families, who because of their background and malnutrition are unable to compete with children from more well-to-do families and thus tend to be left behind in school. We believe this kind of educational input to be as necessary as food and health care in the development of the pre-school child.
All children who have successfully completed this program have gone on to regular schools, competing with children from more socially advantageous families and performing well academically.
We have two full-time, qualified teachers who oversee the development of the pre-school children. We charge no fees but insist that the children’s mothers help one day a month. This is to teach them that education is not a handout and ensures the active participation of the mothers.
“If only a tiny 1-2% of the money spent on arms was used to address the fundamental basic human needs of millions and millions of little ones across the world. But no! And yet we say we want Peace. How dishonest and unjust can we be?”Christmas 2002
Most of the families we work with live in small, cramped spaces with plenty of distractions and plenty of responsibilities for the children – from looking after younger siblings to cooking, cleaning and fetching water from long distances.
Our After-School Tuition program allows children a place to study, do their homework and participate in other extra-curricular activities like sports, dance and theatre. Several teachers oversee the children’s progress, and as a result, grades have improved. We charge no fees but require that mothers help out at Hayden Hall once a month.
It’s not always about studying. Kids get space and time to play and to take part in other activities like sports, art and drama (2003 Nativity play, left). We also encourage good grades with annual prize-giving ceremonies (above centre).
Students from both Scholarship and Study group programs share rooms and teachers.
At the end of the year, awards are announced for Academics, Attendance, Behaviour, Effort and Hygiene.
“Let us be honest. If we separate ourselves from the bruised and broken, from suffering humanity, the poor and the sick, then we separate ourselves from the Heart of God.”
Our experience has shown that many female children are deprived of an education because poor families, already stretched to the limit, prefer to educate their sons before their daughters. The thinking is that daughters will eventually get married and leave the house while sons will bring home a daughter-in-law to look after the parents when they get older.
This traditional gender bias has deprived girls of education and has made them more vulnerable to violence, sexual assaults and malnutrition. 94% of our scholarship recipients are girls.