Buddha’s Smile School has started with the construction of a small day care center for children in the age of 0 to 3 years old. This new center will enable girl elementary school students to attend classes on a regular basis rather than intermittently stay home to care for their younger siblings.
Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of BSS explains: “On days when the parents of many of our older girl students find work, they insist that the older daughters stay home from school in order to care for younger siblings. That means many of our girl students fall irretrievably behind in classwork.”
One example is Buli (7), a student of the Bengali refugee community. This school year Buli did not come to school regularly. Only twice a month her mother allowed her to come to school, because she had to take care of her baby brother while her mother collects garbage. That’s why the school decided to put Buli off the school list, so another child can come to school. Buli came to school since Nursery and loves to come to school. When the new day care center is ready, Rajan will have to convince Buli’s mother to send Buli with her baby brother to school again.
Therefore BSS has asked their donors to help build a day care center. One foundation who responded is Amistad International. Amistad’s executive director, Karen Kotoske “We are very enthusiastic about helping this urgent need. Building a small day care center is urgently needed so that BSS elementary girls don’t have to miss classes. The BSS board of directors has made a good strategic decision. A day care center will help to keep their younger girls in school so that they can at least complete elementary school.” Human Y Terre, a NGO from France, is helping BSS with the operational costs of the day care center.
The design for the center will be a 950 sq ft. room for the main child care with bathrooms, wash-up sinks and mattresses for children’s naps. There will also be an assembly space for the elementary students and possibly a small office for BSS staff. The expected opening of the day care center will be in the summer of 2016.
Sharmili, a young girl-child was hit by an auto Rickshaw a few days ago. Sharmili is from a beggar community in Sarnath near Buddha’s Smile School.
“We regularly pick-up Sharmili and her elder brother Biru with the school bus,” Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of BSS said. “They enjoy coming to school and I was told after her accident with the auto Rickshaw, Sharmili cryed all day and night, asking her mother to bring her here. Fortunately her mother eventually did bring to BSS as Sharmili’s foot needed cleaning and a proper dressing applied. We also gave her medicine and Sharmili’ foot started to heal.
“A few days later Sharmili and her brother failed to attend school even though our bus had gone to pick them up. They were not at their hut so on the second day we started looking for them. We finally found Sharmili alone and begging at the Sarnath museum. We picked her up and brought her to BSS. Her wound was very dirty, smelling and badly infected so we took her to a Doctor.
“Now we are ensuring she has daily medicine and the wound is a clean and dresses each day,” Rajan said
“I couldn’t help myself, I went to their home and scolded her mother and father. But in truth this is what happens all the time here due to the poverty and illiteracy of the many of our children’s parents — the whole family suffers, but the children, and especially the girl children suffer most,” Rajan said.
Kishan, the most dedicated boy of Buddha’s Smile School, stepped into BSS in 2004. He is the 2nd oldest among all his brothers and sisters. He has two brothers and two sisters, all of them studied at BSS and are now grown up.
One of his brother is disable since berth and is now 21 years old.
“Kishan was 8 years old when I enrolled his name in class UKG,” Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of Buddha’s Smile School said. “Every day the family had to suffer for food. Their Father left the children and wife for 2 years. He just did not come home one day and his Mother wondered how she took care of all her children, especially since one of was disable and needed a lot of attention and care all of the time.”
“In 2006 the situation became very serious. There was not enough for to feed all her children and the brothers and sisters started to fight with each other, they were all hungry. Kishan tried to commit suicide by taking poison — a pesticides that was used for plants in the field,” Rajan said.
“I got the news and immediately rushed to their home. Fortunately, Kishan was saved and admitted to hospital.”
Kishan left Rajan a letter in which he wrote: “Please give my books to other child so that they would be able to study.”
“This made me cry,” Rajan said. “Karen sister, from Amistad International (our major sponsor) will also remember as she was here when it happened. We shared the sad news of this boy and also the joy of his recovery.”
“Kishan Mother started to send all of her children to BSS so they all could have at least one full meal a day — BSS provides every child with a wholesome meal each day thanks to the generosity of Geir Davidsen’s family and friends from Etne, Norway.
Now Kishan is in class 10. He is also working as laborer. He has a lot of courage to face the world and is full of energy and dreams.
We found Raj and Shalu (Brother and Sister) at the railway station slum community in 2013. They simply caught Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of Buddha’s Smile School’s attention and were brought in and registered as students.
Presently Raj is studying in Grade-1 and his sister Shalu in L.K.G.
“It was very difficult to convince their parents to send them to school,” Rajan said. “Their father being an alcoholic and very ill mannered and their mother working as a junk picker and selling on the junk for money.
Raj and Shalu used to beg on trains. They didn’t know about school and school life and studies before coming to BSS.
Now they had fallen in love with BSS and regularly attend school.
As they had their huts illegally on railway tracks, police kicked them out from that place, they moved to a near by village.
With the constant effort of Rajan to contact and trace them out and convincing the parents BSS was able to bring back both the children to school and now they are happy and coming to school daily.
SASHI is a student of Buddha’s Smile School since 2005; she belongs to Harijan Dalit community. Presently she is studying in class-9th in Kasturba Inter College.
Her father is a Rickshaw puller; he spends all his earned money drinking as he is a alcoholic. In the influence of alcohol he beats his wife and three daughters and curse them saying why they were born to him and also tell them why they don’t die.
Recently her father met with an accident which stopped him from working and the family is literally had nothing to eat.
Sashi and her two sisters had to work as daily labors/making beads/malas to earn some money for food. Again a tragedy happened SASHI fell while carrying bricks on her head on a construction site and fractured her leg. She was depressed, as she had no one to support her and her family. Her mother is also sick and unable to work.
She had shared all her problems with BSS and her medical treatment was done by BSS and now she is started walking slowly after one month of plaster and had started attending school.
She want to study further and her aim is to become a teacher in the future.
At Shadhika Foundation’s first-ever Partner’s Conference, for the women from the several Indian organizations which help girls attain an education, the Chennai, India conference attendees included Buddha’s Smile School founder/director, Rajan Kaur. The participating women shared the stories of their organizations, discussed their challenges and learned more about fundraising for their work.
Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of Buddha’s Smile School reports, “This conference was helpful for me. All the NGOs are working for women but in different ways and in many sectors with their teams. The conference helped me to learn to become a better speaker even though I am a silent woman but I am proud of the work we are doing. I am devoted to the bright futures of over 300 children. Every time I can learn from another person, this helps me meet our challenges at BSS. I am happy and I believe in my work. I believe that every child’s success, girl or boy, will be fruitful for the entire community. I thank Kim and Shadhika for inviting me to be a representative of Buddha’s Smile School.”
We went to visit the Bengali refugee community in the summer of 2012 and found one of our young girl students, Tamanna taking care of her newly born sister. Their mother was badly sick. We asked Tamanna if she would return to Buddha’s Smile School but she replied she couldn’t because she needed to look after her sister. After summer vacation we had a new intake and I felt sad about Tamanna as she was a bright intelligent child who had progressing well in her studies and I didn’t want her to dropout after progressing so far.
All summer it upset me when I thought about this big loss of opportunity for Tamanna and the benefits that BSS could continue providing for her. She has such a bright future.
So I decided to allow Tamanna to bring Jasmine to Buddha’s Smile School with her. At the age of 9, Tamanna bottle fed the newly born Jasmine every three hours with complete care. Jasmine became the most fortunate and special child of BSS being raised in BSS since at the age of 6 months among 220 children. Even her name was given to her by us.
Now Jasmine is 3 yrs old. She is a happy, curious child who attends school everyday with Tamanna who is now 12 years old. Even on Sundays I am told she waits for the school bus to. Jasmine likes to write on the blackboard and we allow her freedom to go into every class. She is the happiest child and likes to color.
Jasmine is the favorite BSS child of our youngest daughter Rosy. When Rosy arrives home from school she bathes Jasmine putting fresh clothes on her and giving her milk — Jasmine often falls asleep in her arms.
Every few month or so Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of Buddha’s Smile School and her teaches visit some of the various communities their students live in. They interact with parents and seek out any issues that might cause a student to begin missing school. They also talk to families of the unschooled children who are forced to work rather than attend school and see what changes they can make.
Here are some photos from a recent visit to meet children. Many children are forced to labor or beg and are not allowed to any attend school.
A performance was held at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Benares Hindu University (BHU) on 2nd October 2015 at Film and Media council. Buddha’s Smile School was invited to participate by three students, Arindam, Anurag and Bhanu of IIT, BHU, who are also working for Barefoot International. The program was organized to help Buddha’s Smile School create ties with BHU.
“The performance by BSS students was about Saving Girl Children. Girls are not respected in India and parents often feel sad when girl children are born,” Rajan Kaur Saini, founder of Buddha’s Smile School said. “Parents don’t worry about the future of girls and often do not allow them to go to school at all or simply drop their education at the age of 13 or 14 years when they are able to marry and produce children of their own. This performance was held to bring awareness and help give these girls some power and confidence and to acknowledge, like men, they also have a right to an education a bright future,” Rajan said.