When the street educators from our partner first met Mohini she was very shy. The team told her about the SURE project and asked her if she would like to join but Mohini declined, saying she was too busy at home and didn’t like to play. However, the team persevered and when two girls from Mohini’s local community started attending the project, they began to share what they had been learning and the skills they had developed. Over time, Mohini became interested in games and sports and eventually decided to join the project along with her friends.
Mohini has now been attending the project for almost two years and during this time her interest, confidence and skills in sport have deepened, so much so that she was recently selected as the leader of the Kho Kho team. She has also encouraged many of her friends to attend the project too.
When asked about his greatest achievement Aruna answered, “Helping children to make a choice in terms of behaviour change and living a life of positive value. Once one of the children was totally out of school and living in marketplaces. This project has changed his behaviour.
Since his enrolment at school, he has been committed to his schooling activities. His teacher confirmed this during our visit to the school. He is now one of the child ambassadors who raises awareness amongst their peers through community and radio outreach activities.”
Inevitably, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the way Aruna and the team are able to undertake outreach work. As a result of the government restrictions in Freetown, it has been necessary to change the team’s working hours to fit within the citywide evening curfews imposed. In addition, Aruna says that more recently he has been unable to make as many follow up visits to the communities in person as he normally would, so contact has been maintained through regular phone calls with the children. He explains how the situation for the children he works alongside has changed, “Their situation became very bad as a result of the outbreak. Many of them became stranded without food. This is very common during major lockdowns. Their chances of going to the market areas to find money and food became limited.”
At the start of the pandemic, Pinky’s father was sadly involved in an accident which required medical assistance. The family had to cover the cost of his hospital treatment, putting them under even greater financial pressure at a time when they were already struggling to make ends meet. To ensure Pinky and her family had enough to eat during the lockdown in Delhi, Pinky would often have to stand for hours in long queues in the hot sun to receive food handouts supplied by the government.
Pinky began working in a shop to help provide for her family. Pinky has been attending the SURE project for almost two years and says the best thing about being involved is learning lots of new things through games and sports. When asked about her hopes for the future, Pinky says she wants to change the outlook of people towards girls and their oppression of them – this is an issue that she says sees affecting girls and women in her community. Her involvement in the project and the life skills she is learning will undoubtedly help her with this ambition.