“One day, I want to be a doctor”

The help alliance project “Street Smart” in Dehradun, which is supported by help alliance, helps children like Soni to lead an independent life

Soni is beaming with pride. Her exam results have arrived. She passed year 8 with 81 per cent at the state-sponsored school “Unnayan Shiksha Kendra” (USK). Together with local partner Aasraa Trust help alliance supports at USK one of 34 learning centers. The center is used by 190 children in grades 1-8. They receive tutoring in English, Hindi, Math, Science, Social Studies and Computer Science. This extra education program helps children to keep up in school and with their classmates.

Children such as Soni. She is the eldest daughter of migrant parents from northeast India, 16 years old and was born in the city of Dehradun, 250 kilometers north of Delhi. She has two brothers and three sisters. Four of her siblings are studying at a local community school. The family of seven lives in a rented room in one of the city’s most overcrowded slums. Her alcoholic father is a day labourer, her mother a housekeeper. Soni supports her family wherever she can. Before she goes to school, she works as a housemaid for one hour a day. She also works after her lessons at USK.

Soni always wanted to go to school

After primary school Soni could not attend school for four years. Since Soni enjoys learning new things, she sought the help of neighbors to stay in touch with academics. Soni was enrolled in the morning school at the USK again, but was soon frustrated because she could not cope with the curriculum. After Soni started participating in the afternoon program, one could see an improvement in her learning success. With her desire to assert herself in the academic world, Soni regularly participated in the program. In the beginning she had several doubts, but she was not afraid to eliminate them. She has has always been an eager learner. She likes all classes at school, but English is her favourite subject. “My greatest dream is to continue learning. I would like to speak English fluently. I try to read as much as possible to expand my vocabulary”.

The program helps children like Soni to have an everyday school life

“When I left my previous school, I thought I would never learn again. My parents wanted me to study, but they couldn’t afford the tuition. I was so happy when I could go back to school after four years. But it was difficult for me to learn again. My first exams didn’t go very well. My school friends informed me about the Wings courses. I entered the course immediately. The teachers were very nice to me. They helped me to find a way to keep up with the school work so that I wouldn’t fail the exams. I also learned something about good behaviour and hygiene. Last year Aasraa Trust set up a computer laboratory at our school. It is very interesting to learn on the computer. One day, I want to be a doctor. I want to help others and treat poor peopleā€, she says.

Soni is one of the most promising students at the USK. The program not only helped her to continue her studies, but also gave her the chance to meet teenagers of her age. Since USK does not have a secondary school, the help alliance project will take Soni to a state school in 9th grade this year so she can pursue her dreams.

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