“What is the use of giving a girl child education?” asked *Suma’s Dalit parents when challenged by our team in Patripul, a slum near Mumbai. “Girl child are only born to be a slave.”

The team encouraged the family to send Suma to the GCare Centre, and after six months her family relented and enrolled her in school. Suma was six years old.

Three years later her father died suddenly. Without rent, Suma and her mum faced eviction. Our team helped Suma’s mum get a job cleaning offices. But when Covid hit, lockdown closed the company where Suma’s mum worked. Without income, their landlord kicked them out. They couldn’t stay on the street under lockdown rules, as the police beat them, and they turned to our Patripul team in desperation.

Mahendra visited their landlord and offered to pay the rent if he would relent. Thanks to our Covid response fund, we paid 1,000INR (£9.85) per month in rent for the family for two years, until the lockdowns finally ended and Suma’s mum got another cleaning job.

We also provided food parcels and a rechargeable lamp, as the electricity was cut off for non-payment. The lamp could be recharged at our centre for free.

Top of the class – but facing early marriage

Soon Suma was back at school and earlier this year she completed 10th grade with good marks, easily qualifying for grades 11-12 (higher secondary). But her mum couldn’t afford the higher fees and decided to marry 16-year-old Suma off to an old man, who would not demand a dowry.

Again, only the intervention of our team saved her. Mahendra found her a place at a school with a hostel, and arranged a full bursary based on her strong grade 10 results. In a class-wide test, she came first.

Suma says: “My father and mother forsook me, no education, but GCare found me and gave me a future. In our society there is no value for a girl child, we are rejected. People think we are born as a curse to the family. Thanks for GCare helping me and other girls like me.”

“In all my struggle GCare has been supporting me so I could concentrate on my studies – that is why I did so well in grade 10. Thank you so much GCare!”

Suma’s mum said: “Thank you GCare for standing with us during the difficult times we have had and opening my eyes so I didn’t give my daughter in marriage. If I had given her in marriage she would have been a slave forever. Thank you so much for saving me and giving my daughter a future.”

For Suma., ‘filling in the gaps’ meant supporting paying rent, offering food and providing advocacy and access to education. In 2023, we’re raising funds to fill in the gaps for more girls like Suma, through our 40th Anniversary Appeal. Please give generously.

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