No longer a hand to mouth existence
Coolie – i.e. load carrier – that is the profession many children in our schools attribute to their parents. This is not unusual in rural India; other than in Germany, the term “Coolie” is not derogative: many tasks are performed by hand and provide people with an income. However, often that is not enough to live on. As a result, their children have to join in as soon as they are strong enough. They no longer have the time to go to school – their talents and skills are ignored and lost.
For Parigapati Tejaswi (on the right in the picture on the left), poverty was the greatest problem in her childhood: a tiny two-room flat was home to her, two siblings and her parents, who worked as day labourers. Theirs was a hand to mouth existence. If they didn’t manage to get work in the morning, they had nothing to eat in the evening. Living the life of a day labourer, it is impossible to put something by for a rainy day.
Six people in one room
Pilli Babu (at the centre of the picture on the right) had a similar life. He too experienced the poverty of his family as the biggest problem of his childhood, which he spent with three sisters and his parents in a one-room house. His parents too did not have a permanent job and hoped every day that they would find an employer who would pay them a few Rupees for doing some odd job.
Today, Parigapati is 23, Pilli Babu is 31. Both have a secure income. Parigapati works as a lecturer at a school with focus on technology; the young man is employed by an Indian bank. Both earn enough in their jobs to also support their families. Both are married and live with their respective partners under much better conditions than they did in their childhood.
School as a decisive stage of life
To get where they are now, the time at the school of our wortundtat partner AMG has been a decisive stage: thanks to this support, they were able to stay in education beyond primary school. Their parents had no money to pay for school uniform and learning material. It is most probable that even when they were teenagers they would have had to work as day labourers to contribute to their family’s income. However, they had the opportunity to attend school and to develop their talents and skills. As their current jobs demonstrate, in the case of Parigapati and Pilli Babu, these are significantly better than what is needed for odd jobs.