Yamuna Project

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Number of children

Girls: 24 Boys: 26

Project Cost

Rs 20 500; US$ 300, 210 £

It is a sad reality but there are many children who remain invisible in India. One cannot but remember the words of Noam Chomsky in an interview to an Indian weekly. He said: But what is really striking to me about India, much more than most other countries I have been to, is the indifference of privileged sectors to the misery of others. You walk through Delhi and cannot miss it, but people just don’t seem to see it. By 'people' he means the likes of us, the privileged class. We do not 'see' the beggar child, or the child washing cups at the tea stall we are having tea in. In the words of the activist Aruna Roy “If you live in India, you just can’t look outside the window. Because if you do, you’d rather commit suicide. It’s too horrible. So you just don’t look.”

Yet there are children even more invisible then the one that knocks at your car window or sweeps the floor of your friend's house! I am referring to the hundreds and more children whose parents work as agricultural labour on the banks of the river Yamuna, often at a stone's throw of some of the poshest colonies of our city.

It is for these children that we have opened our Yamuna Project.

Till very recently these children had never held a pencil or seen a book. Though they live in what we would deem to be urban Delhi, their world is restricted to a radius of barely a mile. In vegetable growing time they live in thatched huts on the alluvial plain and when the rains comes they move to higher grounds waiting for the waters to recede.

A few months ago, a teacher began teaching them for an hour a day and that is when the world opened to them. Last month we decided to open a primary outreach of them and to give them an enabling environment as close to a school as possible. They now learn from 9 am to 3.30 pm. Our aim is to get them to class VII level and then have them join the Open School.

We intend not only to tach them the proverbial 3 Rs, but to also bring in Art and other creative activities. We also hope to take them on outings so that they can experience what they have seen in books be it India Gate or wild animals.



The Children