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“I want to become a police officer.
                   I want to find my lost mother”

For every child, the first school is the home; the parents. The foundation for the future starts taking shapes this early. So what happens to a child who sees the parents argue every single waking moment and sometimes even brawl; and for reasons that lie beyond the realms of her comprehension?

In this case, that little girl grows up aspiring to be a police officer. Namrata, clearly remembers the way her mother and father continuously kept on disagreeing, arguing and even getting into physical fights with ultimately the father injuring the mother seriously. Namrata, witnessed this from the time she was born, but started reacting to it only from the age of three. As soon as they would start fighting, little Namrata would hide herself under the bed, in an attempt to be able to shut herself out from the noise and the tension. Because of all the stress at home, the parents never thought of sending Namrata to school. This way of life for Namrata and her family, continued for a while.

It was when Namrata turned six, that one evening, her mother was just gone. Nobody knew where and why; she was just gone, leaving everyone behind; and especially little Namrata. The little girl kept asking for her mother for several days and refused to anything at all. Namrata’s father, himself perplexed by the circumstances, had almost given up on her when her aunt intervened and got her enrolled in a nearby Mission Education centres in Virar. And that happened to be the turning point for the little one. She devoted all her time and efforts in doing well in her studies, oblivious to the external world. And the result, she passed her SSC with 72% marks.

Motherless, from a poor family and a girl; the situation could not get worse for Namrata. But thanks to her aunt and her father, she did not land up being married early; instead she has developed into a capable young girl. She is now pursuing the study of Commerce as her stream and wants to be a police officer. The reason – she wants to find her mother. “I love my father a lot, but I miss my mother”, says Namrata with moist eyes.

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Food for son; Tears for daughter


Regular health chekup for Anjali

Pinky – 25 years old; mother of a two year old boy & two months old girl; wife of a rag-picker who merely passes as the breadwinner. They live in Churiya Slum at Tuglakabad in South Delhi. The Smile on Wheels team took notice of Pinky’s little girl one day when they found her crying hysterically. One of the team member’s went and asked Pinky the reason and she replied saying, “She is hungry I don’t have milk for her because I give it to my son”.

It was shocking for the team member to realize how poverty, in this situation, kept alive the age old practice of choosing the boy over the girl child. Pinky has bright plans for her son, but asking about little Anjali her eyes fade and she justifies herself saying “How can I feed my daughter when I have a growing son to nurse.” Pinky’s husband hardly earns anything from his occupation and even washes away part of it in daily doses of alcohol.
Pinky is left with little to manage the needs of the family. So when she does not have enough food for the son, she breastfeeds him and let’s her daughter go hungry. Having gauged the situation, the Smile on Wheels team took Pinky for regular counseling sessions and explained to her the importance of breastfeeding for new-borns. Though hesitant initially, Pinky started appreciating the sessions eventually.

The Smile on Wheels team kept following up with Pinky and little Anjali regularly for very long. Anjali is now just over a year old and looks nourished. The little one surely cannot express yet, but the smile on her cute face says it all.

 

"My daughter earns more than me"


Lilvati with a smile

People may not recognize Lilavati today. She looks different. She is more confident now with a positive attitude. She has happiness on her face which shines out. She is happy and full of life and acknowledges STeP for this new found confidence.

Lilavati Govind Digge comes from a family of five with only the father earning bread for all. The family always found it tight to manage expenditures with the father’s meager salary of Rs. 4000/-, but when they started finding it very difficult Lilavati, being the eldest child, gave up her studies to start supporting the family income. She started stitching at home, but this too was not adequate enough for the family. It was this when she came to know about Smile Foundation’s Smile Twin e-Learning Programme. Being shy and hesitant, Lilavati first found it difficult to cope with, but her father’s encouragement and assistance from the trainers and instructors, helped her complete the course with a distinction. She was hesitant first, but it was her father who encouraged her. Today, Lilavati is employed at Reliance Mart in Santa Cruz where she is earning a salary of 6200/- a month and is expecting an appraisal very soon. Lilavati says, “I was in need of a job and STeP taught me the skills to get one and I want to excel at it. I learnt a lot during those four months and got selected at the first interview only.”

Lilavati’s father talks about this differently. With pride shining in his eyes he tells everyone, “Meri beti mujh sey bhi zyada kamane lagie hai (My daughter today earns more than me).”