The yellow bus that’s bringing hope and happiness to children in India

Children at one of our three mobile learning centres in Kolkata.
Children at one of our two mobile learning centres in Kolkata, India.

It was hot and sticky when we arrived at one of Kolkata’s poorest slums.

I got out of the car onto thick dark mud. Wild pigs were wandering about and I heard loud banging noises from the nearby construction site.

I remember thinking: I can’t believe people live here.

But it was those people we were here to meet as part of our a visit to see first-hand the work Save the Children is doing to make sure some of India’s most vulnerable children get an education.

A safe place where children can learn

I arrived with Save the Children staff from Delhi, who showed us to a big, shiny, yellow school bus – one of two mobile learning centres that Save the Children operates in Kolkata.

Stepping inside the bus I found around 15 children sitting happily on the floor, drawing pictures and talking excitedly among themselves.

The atmosphere was completely different from the conditions outside; it was refreshingly cool, colourful, and creative – and filled with positive energy.

As I watched the children draw and learn together, they told us how much they loved the bus and how it had positively affected their lives.

Some said they rushed through their chores in the morning to get to the bus as quickly as they could.

They’d happily sit there all day.

Helping whole communities

It’s clear that mobile learning centres not only provide children with an education, but also give hope and happiness to entire communities.

They travel to 24 similarly deprived locations around the Kolkata slums, providing children who live there with quality education and learning materials.

The mobile learning centres are helping us reach nearly 4,000 children who would otherwise be unable to get an education.

A right to education for all

On the bus, we met Soni, aged 12. She stood up to tell us how passionate she is about the participation of girls in school – a right that many girls in India are denied.

She explained how she’s convincing her father to pay for her to attend English classes, just like her brother.

I was struck by Soni’s confidence and just how optimistic all the children were.

It was clear they have big plans for the future. And with your support, we’re doing all we can to help them get there.

 

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Comments

  • Richard Barrow

    This really struck a chord with me, I’ve seen the poverty in Kolkata, though a long time ago, I will see what more I can do to help such causes!

  • It’s really heart-warming to hear of this type of work going on amongst some of the poorest children in Kolkata. If only there were more than two yellow buses!!!

  • Cristina

    THANK YOU THANK YOU AND THANK YOU. Giving money is the easy bit. What Save the Children do is simply amazing, you are changing the world. Please pay for Soni’s and other girls’ English lessons if they don’t get that help from their parents for being a girl. THANKS SO MUCH for everything you do. You are so inspiring.

  • Thanks so much for the encouragement, Cristina! We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing supporters, so thank you. Sarah

  • Sue Baker

    Thank you! This is good to know.

  • Fatmah Lallmahamood

    I am so deeply touched by all the work done by Save the Children. My contribution is so minimal and sometimes I wish I could do more. Hopefully, I would be able to do so in the future.
    I sincerely wish I could shake the hands of all those of you who are practically doing the job in those countries.
    I also wish you all the courage, stamina and countless blessings for your doings.

  • Thank you for your kind words, Fatmah. Sarah

  • Norman Heslip

    Education is indeed very important for these indian children, because without it there would surely be no hope whatsoever of children ever getting out of poverty whatsoever, no-matter how hard one tries thank you.

  • Victor

    I am truly touched by this story.

    My monthly giving to Save the Children is very modest but I am truly happy to be part of a bigger thing that makes the world a better place.

  • What a brilliant way of taking education to children. What elements do you concentrate on? Maths, Writing, Reading, a language, or helping children find the confidence to express themselves in words, songs, pictures? How often do you return to the same location? What contact with the adults in the families?
    This interests me!

  • Edward Davey

    A wonderful testimony; thank you.

  • MARTIN ALLISON

    Good Afternoon. My name is Martin, I wish to congratulate you on the fantastic work you are doing with children all over the world. Bringing education to these children brings hope of a brighter future for the children and their families.

    My son Paul has a learning difficulty(dyspraxia) so I understand how important education is to all of us. Paul was successful in obtaining qualifications through his hard work and assistance from his teachers and parents.

    I urge all parents to give all their children an equal opportunity to be educated, it is most important. Education is the pathway to a better life for all of us no matter where we live.

    May I wish you all the best for the future, God bless.

    Martin Allison.

  • Hi Martin, Thank you for your kind words. Well done to Paul, it just goes to show what can be achieved with the right support, which we believe all children should have access to. Best wishes, Sarah

  • Merryl Bevan

    I am delighted to sponsor Save the Children and to learn of the wonderful help the children are receiving. All children should have the right to an education and the chance to escape the dreadful poverty and conditions they live in.

  • Carol Shaw

    Heartwarming to hear these children are getting a chance at an education and delighted to know how Save the Children is using the money we donate.

  • Caroline Regan

    It makes me very happy that a small gesture on my part makes such a difference in the life of a child.

  • Carol Teague

    An enormous thank you to each and everyone involved in this tremendous project.
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to purchase a greater quantity of buses and just keep rolling on reaching out to children and their families.
    Can we? _ we must.

  • what a wonderful idea.I did not know fhis was happening. When I am able I will donate but I cannot do it on a regular basis.

  • What a wonderful idea , I was not aware this happened, when I can I will donate to this idea but I am unable to donate regular

  • Thanks Barbara, that’s very kind. Sarah

  • Chris Coward

    It is great to have direct feedback which shows that our small donation is having an impact on the lives of children in impoverished areas of Kolkata. Good education is indeed the most effective route out of poverty and focused aid is the answer. Thank you Save the Children for sharing this story with us!

  • Peter Walsh

    Hearing about this side of Save The Children activities makes me wish as a pensioner that I could contribute more to see other projects like this helping to lift children out of poverty….thank-you STC for all your good works!

  • andrea king

    Thank you for this info. Very glad to hear it 😊.

  • Julie Cooper

    I think that sometimes we feel that a situation is so overwhelming that whatever we do will be futile but with all that you do with any donations you prove to us all that a difference can and is being made. Thank you for seeing the bigger picture and for putting our contributions to such fantastic use.

  • frank keefe

    I’m 72 years old living on mine and my wifes pension she also works part time help to pay some bills..already give donation monthly to Water Aid Lifeboat Paws so obviously being on such a tight budget we have to be careful what goes out.My one concern is the amount of money taken out of the donations to pay for staffs wages and in many cases directors salaries.Ive seen some of those salaries and its beyond the pale for a charity.So it comes down to those charities where the largest percentage of the money collected goes to those who need the help that’s where I will donate.So my question is where can I see your financial accounts which will affect my decision whether to donate or not

  • Hi Frank

    Thanks so much for your interest.
    We completely understand people want to know what percentage of their donation goes towards helping children, that’s why we make all our financial information available to the public.
    For every £1 you donate, 88p goes directly towards changing the lives of vulnerable children. If you are donating to a current crisis appeal then 100% of that donation will go to the affected area.
    You can find more information here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/accountability-transparency/how-your-money-is-spent

    We also understand some people are wary about the salaries our staff receive, however in order to reach the most children we need to attract people with special experience, knowledge and initiative. This ensures we are on track to reaching our 3 specific breakthroughs for children by 2030:
    SURVIVE: No child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday
    LEARN: All children learn from a quality basic education
    BE PROTECTED: Violence against children is no longer tolerated

    I hope this goes someway to answering any queries you may have, if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Supporter Care team on 020 7012 6400 who will be happy to chat to you.

  • Stuart Marshall

    Best of luck!!!

  • Thanks for your support Stuart 🙂

  • What a great innovative idea. For many years I have read about mobile health facilities, and now this has been extended to include education. We all know that education leads to knowledge and freedom and power. God bless you all at Save the Children. I will do my best to continue to support you financially and prayerfully.

  • Hi Sheila

    Thank you so much for your kind comment.

  • Catherine Rees

    Access to education is crucial if we are to fulfil our ultimate aim of eradicating poverty from the planet. I am a headteacher of a school in England and strongly believe that the heart of education is about providing opportunity, building relationships and giving people the hope and aspirations for a better future. It is clear that this is happening in the yellow bus! Congratulations on your wonderful work that is making such a difference to the lives of many children. Catherine

  • Hi Catherine

    Its great to hear your thoughts on this programme coming from a Headteacher.
    Thank you for your kind words.

  • Mrs Ahmed

    I love Carolines story !!! Its amazing how lucky we are in uk we get free education!! I teach phonics in a Primary school to those children who have no English and new to the Uk and i love it. I hope one day i can go abroad to have an experience in the slums and needy country.

  • Linda Brooks

    What a heart-warming story. We all know that a good educational system for all children is essential for any aspiring country. However, important though the economic arguments are, it is also the personal benefits it brings to each and every one of us. I cannot imagine a life without books! Books that transport us to other eras, worlds and societies and in doing so help us to understand our own culture as well as that of others. Education is a fundamental human right. We cannot be complacent about the number of children around the world who are still being denied an education. We cannot change the past but we can influence the future. I believe that a small sacrifice in my life can be put to better use in the lives of these children. I want the young girls to have English lessons too! Keep up the good work StC. I hope we see many more yellow buses.!

  • Pauline McFarlane

    What fantastic work you are doing. It is just so important to help those people who are less fortunate that ourselves. This is a great blog and I look forward to receiving more in the future. It’s hard to believe that people are living like they are in this day and age. I have visited a number of third world countries, but not India, and it’s a real eye opener I just wish more people would visit places like this.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Talence Semwayo

    It’s really encouraging to hear positive results from the donations l make,wish could help more. Thank you guys from Save the children who are doing this marvellous work in the World to change the lives of Children

  • Deborah East

    Wonderful to receive news and updates on the wonderful work save the children is doing to support children across the world.
    All children deserve and should have the best chances in life – no matter their country of origin, economic status.
    I am proud and excited to donate monthly to such a wonderful charity.
    God bless ❤️

  • Thank you so much for your kind comments, Deborah – we really couldn’t help as many children without the wonderful support of people like you. Laura

  • Urmila Jha-Thakur

    I am originally from Kolkata and I don’t think I could ever think of helping children with education the way you are doing. Beautiful concept and so effective! Truly inspired…

    Just another thought. There are some great schools in Kolkata and I was wondering if meaningful collaborations could be set up to bridge the gap in society. Children going to these schools should also understand what they receive and not take things for granted while the not so privileged students can get some quality time and experience which should help them to carry on pursuing their dreams….

  • Maria Ball

    I love reading all the stories and the wonderful work save the children do. I support the smile train charity and anything to do with children. Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks so much, Maria. Laura

  • It just goes to show what we can achieve with gentle persistence

  • It just goes to show what we can achieve with gentle Persistance