Seven years ago, in April 2009, director and founder of BSS Rajan Kaur Saini received the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award from Wisdom in Action. His Holiness Dalai Lama handed out the award to her in San Francisco. Receiving this award felt as a big blessing and a great honour to Rajan and it encouraged her to continue her good work and to face many difficulties.
Rajan: “I never thought in my dreams that my work would be recognized and to receive this compassion award. As a teacher I always do my work with love and a pure heart. Receiving this blessing of His Holiness made me feel more confident, energetic and encouraged me to do more for so many children in need.”
Receiving the compassion award also encouraged Rajan to overcome many challenges. Rajan: ”One of the major problems is to educate these untouchable children and motivating their parents to face and overcome everyday challenges and difficulties.
In the year of 2013 I chose the children from Chaukaghat community (the slums alongside the railway tracks), who live without shelter under a bridge. I put my attention and focus on these children, and surveyed their community. It was very difficult to bring these children to BSS. They did not know what school was or a childhood life! Most parents are alcoholic and don’t bother about their children’s future; instead they send them out for begging. Fortunately we succeeded in convincing the parents to send their children to school. We now have 35 motivated students from the Chaukaghat community at BSS.
Babu, Durga and Jyoty
Rajan had to face also many other big problems and tragedies. In 2013 a boy named Babu from the Chaukaghat community was severely burnt due to an accident near the railway tracks.
Rajan told us, “Thanks to all people who gave support we were able to safe his life. It was very difficult time for me. I did not get any support from Babu’s parents, not even in blood donation. I had to declare in the hospital to be responsible for his life and death, during his treatment. I was crying internally and praying to God. Somehow a doctor saved his life.”
Unfortunately not every child can be saved. Rajan has been devastated many times because many of her students have met early and violent deaths. ”This is most difficult and so sad. There are so many problems and issues in the communities where our students live, like abuse, murder and child marriage… We lost little Durga (4) and also Jyoti (13) died in front of my eyes because of the results of the sexual violence of her husband. It made me feel guilty. I know difficulties never end. One goes another comes.”
Giving children a childhood and future
There were also many successes. Rajan: “We have 221 students in elementary school. We feel thankful and happy we can give them love and care, and a good education.” Rajan continues: “I am also proud of our students who now are in middle school, high school, higher secondary school and graduates. They are doing tremendous to achieve their goal and shaping the path for others.”
With the confidence, energy and encouragement Rajan received, she will continue to do her work and making new plans. At the moment BSS is building a small day care center for children of 0 to 3 years old siblings of girls who are, on some days, forced to stay home to care for the younger children. Rajan:”I want to run this center effectively and not let our girl students drop their studies because they have to do day care for siblings. With the day care we also provide a good environment for their little siblings to grow up.”
“My future plan and dream for BSS is to acquire a big land where we can build up middle school, run vocational classes to empower the children, who are the future of the country.”