The Jeevan Asha Day Care Centre at Gumpadar in Odisha was started in 2001. ‘Gumpadar’ in Odisha means ‘a lost field’ and true to its name this area houses people who are as if lost in a jungle – without clean drinking water, electricity and other basic amenities. Their sustenance is based on what the forest offers.
In an area where survival is a daily battle, education is the last thing on the minds of these villagers. However, the day care centre has been a ray of hope here.
Many children who started their primary education at this centre are now in college. Some of them have been granted scholarships by the government and are now given free education and hostel accommodation.
As the village headman put it, “the parents may be illiterate and exploited, but the children and the village have a bright future. They will someday use their education to fight injustice, oppression and exploitation.”
The success of our first day care centre in Odisha gave us the confidence to take our endeavour to yet another village called Sarumaha. 10 out of the 60 children in Year 1 were selected by the government after an exam to attend the government school.
In 2010, we moved to yet another village named Padanketa. In the last 4 years, 60 children from this village have benefitted through our day care centre and are now moving to government sponsored hostels for higher education.
As of 2014, we are running our DCC in a village called Pateri and have been instrumental in bringing about a change in the lives of 70 children. Although they have a primary school here, the children were unable to read or write even the basic words and numbers. Our ‘play way’ method of teaching has been quite valuable for children who attend this centre. Most children when they first came to the DCC here were undernourished and therefore nutritious midday meals were also provided. The efforts have brought about a marked improvement in the children with regard to health and education.