Laxmi was born in the Prakash Tekadi slums, and has lived there her whole life. She had limited access to education as a child. As an adult she lives in the same slums she grew up in with her husband and two daughters. Her husband works as a casual cook, getting work when kitchens are overwhelmed, or when food is needed for weddings.
Laxmi was raised in poverty, and now she is raising her children in poverty. Tragically, she was not given the opportunity to escape this trap. But she has hope that her children can break the cycle!
Prakash Tekadi is a small slum community of around 180 people, who are squatting near the Ambernath tip. Most people living there work as ‘rag pickers’, sorting through rubbish for items they can sell. The majority live on less than AUD$2.50 a day and live in houses made out of whatever can be scavenged, many without timber windows or doors.
Seeing the needs of Laxmi’s community, our partners Hosanna Ministries began planning a project to help the people living in Prakash Tekadi. Daniel and Smita, the project leaders, began working with the community to identify their strengths and vulnerabilities.
Laxmi was one of the people who contributed to a community consultation as part of designing the new development project. The consultation aimed to learn about and address the experience of the people living in the slums here. She contributed her thoughts about the critical needs in Prakash Tekadi.
“It was comfortable,” Laxmi said, referring to her participation in the consultation. “They made things easy to understand, so I could be very active.”
“I said that I’m more concerned about my children, it would be helpful to get the children more education. I said, “Can you also do something for the women? A small class, reading and writing, basic alphabets, so they can write their names and give signatures.”
In Prakash Tekadi, most households are women-led. Many of these women are single mothers. While Laxmi has basic literacy and has learned to write, many of these women are unable to even write their name. This greatly limits their opportunities to earn an income to unskilled and low-paying work. It keeps them from being able to receive important information, like COVID-19 safe practices from the government. It makes it difficult to break the cycle of poverty.
Now, because of this community development project, things are changing in Prakash Tekadi. The Emmanuel Education Centre run by Hosanna Ministries provides children — like Laxmi’s two daughters — a head start on their learning.
The Education Centre is open in the morning, and the children who attend learn basic reading and writing and sing songs. When the schools were open, the older children would then go to school. The children have been taught the importance of washing their hands properly, a critical skill in the current pandemic. The centre also provides them with a nutritious snack, something many children in Prakash Tekadi don’t have access to at home.
“I’m happy that my daughters will get some education, and close to our house,” says Laxmi, laughing and smiling. “Because it’s in the community, we feel like it’s safe. Doing activities in our community, it makes us feel very proud and safe.”
When you give to the COCOA Mid-Year Appeal, you’re empowering people to break the generational cycle of poverty. Laxmi’s parents lived in the slums, she was born there, and she is raising her children there. Giving education to children gives them the ability to break the cycle! They will have access to further education and work, and set higher goals for their future.
Other children are already discovering the possibilities that come from education! One 16-year-old boy from Prakash Tekadi now wants to be a teacher. He hopes to teach young children to read and write — children like Laxmi’s daughters! He grew up in Prakash Tekadi, just like Laxmi. But because of his education, he has the opportunity to break the poverty cycle.
Your gift of $30 can fill a classroom with furniture and equipment, for kids like Laxmi’s daughters to use. A gift of $160 helps pay the monthly salary of a teacher — maybe soon, this young man’s salary.
The generational cycle of poverty is vicious. Many people never get the chance to break out of it. You can give children like Laxmi’s daughters the opportunity for education — and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.