AID Book Drive

Kadam Education Initiative

AID has partnered with the Kadam Education Initiative since xxxx. This initiative is based out of Ahmedabad, Gujarat and its mission is to enable young children to access education and develop holistically as socially responsible and confident citizens. This initiative was founded by Meera Malek, and is supported by Prasad Chacko. The focus of this initiative is to support about 30 young adolescent girls from highly under-privileged families of single parents (typically a working mother), and/or displaced families who are at risk of ending up as child labor or become victims of trafficking. Most recently, this initiative has also included 10 adolescent boys.

The initiative has a center in Ahmedabad, which serves as a safe place for these young children to get support for their education through resources available at the center (such as help from other volunteers, computers, supplies), exchange stories and their learning experiences through discussions, as well as attend life-skill workshops on various topics such as communication, safety, career options, etc. Kadam has supported many of these young girls from their middle school through their high-school, helped them with admissions to a local college as well as supported them during their college years. Kadam provides vocational learning opportunities through many individual supporters that come from other NGOs. Many drop-out students are assisted to build their resumes as well as attend multiple training programs through online and in-person resources. The Kadam center also provides residential as well trauma counseling to deal with abuse, violence and constant humiliation.

These young girls are empowered in so many ways and are also given a great opportunity by Kadam to go on field trips and celebrate major events together teaching them to become mature, nurture new friendships and gain confidence. There is a strong sense of belonging and community that they develop due to these activities. One example is that of Manisha, a senior girl of this group who spends time visiting local bus and train stations looking for lost or abandoned children. She brings the child to the attention of the government children services who then work to identify the parents and reunite the child with the family. A lot of the senior girls help with mentoring and providing tutoring support to the younger ones.

The Kadam initiative has a formal application process for selecting these children. They prioritize this for the low-income, highly marginalized, and single parent households. They also give priority to young girls, who have a working parent. The parent also needs to ensure that they will not marry off their children once they finish their high-school, so that the children get the opportunity to complete college studies in a field of their choice enabling them to be more successful at getting a higher skilled job.

There are two sisters, Komal and Poonam that have been part of Kadam since xxxx, and they were tutored on and off in English by AID US volunteers since April, 2020. These sisters belong to a family that lives in a slum of Ahmedabad. They are raised only by their mother. Their mother wakes up at 4am so she can reach the marketplace early enough to bargain and purchase the best vegetables from the wholesale vendors. Reaching so early is very important else she would only get the more wilted batch of vegetables resulting in minimal earnings for the day. This brave woman who is not educated herself, understands the value of a good education for her daughters and has committed to Kadam that she will not marry her daughters off after they complete their high school, so that they can pursue college and be able to earn a livelihood through skilled jobs. These girls have worked hard through their high-school, including being responsible for most of the house chores through this period, and are now in college pursuing Psychology and Economics. Poonam has recently graduated with her degree in Economics.

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