Colores de Calcutta is a Spanish NGO that works in close collaboration with the Indian NGO Seva Sangh Sami in the shanty town of Pilkhana, known as the ‘City of Joy’. Since 2018, Almayuda has been supporting Anand Bhavan, an initiative to enable young girls from very poor families to access education.

For over ten years now, the Spanish NGO Colores de Calcutta and the Indian NGO Sava Sangh Sami have been jointly running an education and health programme in the shanty town of Pilkhana. In 2007, the co-operation between the two NGOs led to the renewal of the Pilkhana medical centre, a major achievement in a district where two public hospitals are expected to meet the needs of 1.8 million inhabitants.
One year earlier, in 2006, Colores de Calcutta and Seva Sangh Sami set up Anand Bhavan (in Bengali, the ‘House of Joy’), a home for 30 girls that guarantees their schooling, from kindergarten to secondary education, in nearby publicly-run schools. After that, students have the opportunity to continue their training thanks to a programme of study scholarships.

Almayuda’s goal is to enable these girls from very poor families to avoid exclusion and to access education. In India, nearly 40% of girls under the age of 14 do not go to school. This discrimination particularly affects girls who live in poverty, as in Kolkata, where almost a third of the city’s 15 million inhabitants live on less than a euro a day!

A protective environment, an individualised education

The educators endeavour to provide each girl with personalised attention in every domain, be it physical, psychological, intellectual or some other aspect.

Anand Bhavan offers its young residents a protective environment in which they can grow up without having to worry about essential needs such as food, clothing, hygiene or medical care. They are encouraged to maintain a link with their families. During the holidays, they are able to return to their parents so long as they have a roof over their heads and live in conditions that guarantee the girls’ safety.

Hindu, Muslim or Christian, the girls learn to live together in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding. Their educators, who take care of them on a daily basis, strive to create a climate of trust and affection. They endeavour to provide each girl with personalised attention in every domain, be it physical, psychological, intellectual or some other aspect.

In addition to the teaching received in establishments outside the shelter, Anand Bhavan reinforces its young residents’ school education by providing educational support, stimulation or remedial classes in Hindi, Bengali, English and computer studies, thereby increasing their chances of success. Extracurricular activities such as educational outings, excursions, workshops and the organisation of an end-of-year cultural programme to be shared with families are a beneficial complement to the girls’ training.

Further, higher…

Once they have acquired their upper secondary school leaving certificate, young women have the possibility of obtaining a grant and of continuing their studies. Girls who wish to may pursue professional or vocational training courses to enable them to enter employment quickly and effectively. In this way, many young girls find jobs as cooks, care-givers etc.

At this stage, students live with their families, if that is possible, or in a residence for young women, the finance for which is provided by the grant.

Photos DR

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