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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