Education for children in the Elephant village community becomes stable, thanks to steady presence of volunteers and continuous efforts of the NGO called Saarthak
For a village that had never even imagined seeing its girls studying, it’s a dream come true to see young girls stepping out in groups to their way school, daily. This is the new reality of the famous (yet, poor)“Elephant village” close to Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Elephant village is known for the hundreds of people who raise elephants and earn their living through these animals. They are called “Mahaouts” and typically fall into the lowest income groups in the society. The children in these families are used to helping their parents from a very early age – boys will mostly feed the elephants, groom them and take them out for work whereas the girls will help the women in the family to cook and clean.
In 2011, IDEX and Saarthak ( a non-profit, established by Dr. Kusum Sharma, who is also a founder of Idex) combined their efforts to bring education to this community. At that time, it hardly seemed like a possibility because the community was not open to formal education. The organizations decided to start giving them their traditional “religious education” in order to get a foot in the door. Gradually, they started teaching other subjects like English, Hindi, and Maths. With time, the parents discovered that their children could read and write like the school-going city children.
IDEX and Saarthak started with informal education for the boys and got female volunteers to teach the girls. As the interest to study rose among these kids, the boys got their parents ready to allow them to go to regular school. In a village full of illiterate families, this was the first generation of literate children including veiled girls stepping out the family threshold to study in government-funded schools. Soon enough, the community built a local school for the children.
The female volunteers played a very positive role in bringing about this change. They started by visiting families in their homes – building relationships, sharing personal examples of how education has helped them earn a dignified living. After three years of concerted efforts in this direction, the “Elephant village” now boasts an English-medium school with 27 children that is being supported by IDEX and a non-profit, Young Dreamers Association. These young have now managed to learn some English and computer skills. They are committed to making progress in their lives. It is a low-income community with family incomes set at around a hundred US dollars a month. The community previously believed that they couldn’t earn a better living as they had no skills other than raising elephants, but now things are changing in the community.
10-year-old Gulabsa is one of the most intelligent students and her parents – Aibli and Sajna – are excited that their daughter will bring happiness to the family.
In the rural community, there is an education committee meeting where parents get to see the progress of their children. The kids read out newspapers to their parents, borrow books from the school library and read the stories to them. Ramzaan, from the Education Committee, says that before the children would fight and that used to be a big concern to their families too. However, now the kids are busy with their studies and that is a kind of relief for the society. Volunteers engage themselves in teaching the kids in such a manner that the kids do not feel that they are loaded with a thousand things. Rather, the children are learning things that intrigue them and activities that they think are fun.
The aim here is to ensure that every person can engage and devote themselves to their education. With the support of the community and the hard work of the students and volunteers hopefully one day there will be 0% illiteracy rates in Elephant village and other rural communities.
Experience volunteering in Jaipur and help the local communities with Bamba Experience:
Jaipur India Voluntour 14D/13N: Immerse yourself in the Rajasthani region of India for a 14-day voluntour experience to work alongside local people and give back to the community.
- Visit the Taj Mahal & experience a camel safari in the desert
- Volunteer at a local school or village
- Dedicate two weeks to helping local communities