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SHRESTHA strives to improve the lives and life-chances of orphans, slum and street children in Jaipur, north-west India. We’re a registered organisation, providing education, health support and vocational training for children. Mission Shrestha is dedicated to helping impoverished children lead healthy, fulfilling lives and reach their full potential into adulthood - and you can help.
What we do
We work with children and their families living in an established slum area on the outskirts of Jaipur, in the desert state of Rajasthan. We provide formal and informal education, vocational training and support with nutrition and health. Shrestha is registered under the Rajasthan Society Registration Act 1958.
Life in the slum
In this slum area, the families are from different states, including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. They live in houses made with mud or in less substantial tent-style homes. Families tend to be fairly large, with typically five or six children, so there’ll be an average of about eight people in each household, sharing one single room.
People in the slum area do not have a fixed job. Instead, they’ll do garbage collection, shoe polishing, begging and lots of similar work to try to generate an income. They generally do not earn enough money to fulfil their daily needs. Often, parents are not able to provide food and clothing for their children or even medicine when children fall ill.
The children want to go to school and study like 'normal’ kids, but their parents don’t earn enough to send them to a good school. These children have lots of talent and are eager to learn but their family situation means they’ve often no choice but to work along with their parents.
Breaking the cycle
Shrestha works to break the cycle of poverty that diminishes these children’s life chances. Without a good education, their economic prospects will be as limited as those of their parents, sentencing them and their future children to a similar life of hardship.
Shrestha is also about helping keep families together, because it’s not uncommon for slum children to run away - sometimes because of problems created by their own parents and sometimes in pursuit of their dreams. Most of the street children in Jaipur actually belong to a slum area. That’s why we teach moral values, so they know the importance of family, because when any child leaves home and ends up on the streets there’ll be organised crime gangs waiting to 'befriend’ them, only to later force them into child labour or criminal activities like pick-pocketing.
Shrestha believes education is at the heart of improving the children’s prospects - not just for the children, but for their parents, too. We see it as equally important to engage with their parents and community leaders in the slum area to help them understand the value of education, as a way to help the whole family’s prospects in the long term. Through building relationships with the parents over the past few years, Shrestha has gained their trust and support, which is critical to ensuring that the children continue to attend school for as long as possible. The first Shrestha school was right in the heart of the slum, and we regularly invite parents to special events at our new schoolroom in a basement nearby.
At the Shrestha school, we teach the children Hindi, English, maths and computing, in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, while also assisting in their moral development. We provide vocational training so that the children can learn a range of crafts, from jewellery making and art through to henna tattooing and tailoring clothes and bags. Our hope is that they’ll head into adulthood equipped with the skills and knowledge to start their own business or find a good job in a company and reach their full potential in society.
We also put a strong focus on fun and social skills at the Shrestha school. We celebrate festivals and birthdays with the children, which gives them a lot of happiness, and each school day ends with a session of sports and games, to make sure they always leave with a smile.
How you can help
Fundraising - With more funds, we could do so much more to support these children. We welcome sponsors so that we can send children to good schools, and provide a meal for those who come to the Shrestha school. We also need books and equipment for the school. We’re currently renting the schoolroom, and it’s our ambition to build our own school in the future. Perhaps you’d like to raise money for Shrestha, or make a donation. Find out more on our website.
Raising awareness - You can help us spread the word about Shrestha, so that more people around the world can support us in our work. It’s easy - just share and 'like’ our facebook posts and let friends and family know about us.
Volunteering - We welcome volunteers at Shrestha.