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Making teachers out of illiterate moms

Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 4:10am IST
Savita, 30, an unskilled labourer, had never stepped out of her house alone without her husband. She was illiterate, married off at 12, and had two children.

Construction workers’ wives are being hired as caretakers at a crèche


Savita, 30, an unskilled labourer, had never stepped out of her house alone without her husband. She was illiterate, married off at 12, and had two children. Following her husband around different construction sites across the city, she could not enroll her children in school, only to leave after a few months.

However, Savita’s life took a turn for the better when an NGO started mobile creches for the children of migrant labourers at a construction site in Agripada. The crèche, which needed teachers, saw an enthusiastic candidate in her.

After a year of training with the NGO, Savita now teaches at the creche and takes care of children — from newborns to six-year-olds.

“They call me ‘Madam’ now and it makes me very proud. I am uneducated, as my parents never sent me to school. But I can teach the children whatever I have learnt in the training. I am now learning to read and write,” Savita says proudly.

After witnessing the success of women like Savita, Mumbai Mobile Creches, which offers daycare facilities to children of construction workers across Mumbai, now offers training programmes to other mothers.

“Most women at the sites have studied till class 10 or 12. While some are just housewives, others work as domestic servants or in other unskilled jobs to support the family,” explains Neeta Khajuria, manager, Mumbai Mobile Creches.

The women undergo a year’s training. “They get a Rs2,500 stipend during the training, and once they are employed in the nearest creche, they earn Rs4,000 a month,” Khajuria adds.

The organisation has so far trained more than 300 women, employing them at 26 centres to look after 1,700 children.

This is not the end of road for  the NGO, which has plans of reaching 10,000 children and women across the city.

“We have come this far because of the support of builders like Raheja, Hiranandani, Rustomjee and Kalpataru, among others. They have contributed in cash and kind, but our aim is to reach out to more builders and have similar set-ups at other construction sites,” Khajuria reveals.
 r_priya@dnaindia.net




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