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Meet Sonal A Transformation

(Success story)

An encounter with Sonal,when she came to enroll herself in July 06 at the Utthan Shikshan Kendra, a supplementary education program for the economically marginalized children, living in the vicinity of Utthan and launched in july 2002,with the support of Share & Care ,was a rather disturbing one.

11 yrs. in age, studying in class 6 in a local municipal school , Sonal was unkempt as she came with her mother to this class of 44 boys and girls aged 11 to 16 for admission.

Tom-boyish in appearance her shirt and pant soiled, her short crop of hair lusterless, her teeth tarnished and the mouth emanating with a foul smell from chewing "kuber". (a powder infested with a form of tobacco),she seemed to be the epitome of negligence. It was evident that there was total rejection on the part of the mother. Mother complained that Sonal was very disobedient and they had washed their hands of her. It was learnt that Sonal hails from a very low strata of society. the father ekes out a living Running a hand-cart selling pouches of "kuber" and drinking water. The mother too assists the father to support the family of Sonal and 3 other siblings.

The class informed the teacher that Sonal whiled away her time on the streets, fraternized with only boys and was hooked onto "kuber". On hearing this, the teacher was afraid of admitting her. How could a child with such a demeanor be admitted here? Her habit of loitering and addiction to "kuber" would not bode well for the rest of the class...So, the teacher said "NO" and sent her back. The whole matter was brought to the matter of the authorities concerned. Here it was emphasized to the teacher that this program was not limited to the merely the teaching of the 3 R's but it also endeavoured to groom these kids to become better citizens in the future and achieve better standards of living. It was explained too that Sonal's parents were caught up in the daily grind of life ,trying to make the ends of life meet, and that she came from an environment devoid of love and attention. But before word could be sent to Sonal,she herself returned to the class the very next day and was admitted.

A consultation with the Utthan psychologist cum psychotherapist took place. Empathizing with her, and asking her whether she was depressed, whether she would like to continue in this manner or would prefer to learn and aim for better living, Sonal burst into tears. An affectionate pat on the back, a patient wait helped Sonal to release a little.

"Would she like to enroll herself here?" And she smiled thru the tears. An understanding on the part of the therapist kindled Hope in her .The therapist explained that she would be enrolled provided she abided by the rules here. she must abstain from chewing "kuber", and adopt the basics of cleanliness. Sonal agreed happily. The therapist then talked to the mother helping her to understand that the child needed support and encouragement. A special program was chalked out for Sonal stressing to the teacher that love is the key ingredient for bringing about any behaviour modification. The teacher embarked on such a schedule for her, marking a star for her on a chart for all her achievements ..be it coming tidily dressed to school ,or abstaining from"kuber".

Over a period of a month, positive changes were visible. Soon the teacher built a very good rapport with her. With encouragement and appreciation her shoddiness gradually disappeared and she grew out of her habit of eating "kuber". The concept of saving and deposing her meagres money at the Utthan Bank was instilled in her. She gladly did this and said she would buy a nice dress when she had enough money in the bank.

A follow-up with the mother revealed that there was marked change in Sonal ,she now helped in home chores. Sonal is now a keen student at this centre. She has mingled well with the other children. She participated in the garba function on August 15 and was prettily attired in a traditional chaniya-choli dress. All in all,she is a smart and promising student of this program. Share & Care funding initiated this program and has immensely helped many such children.