I would like to know whether any of you feel it in your hearts to donate to a family that I am very close to here in Pushkar, India. The family consists of Anil - 12, Tofina - 10, Rajana- 7, Romey - 4, Kassi - 3, Baby Crema - 1 and father Aslam and mother Hema.
Tofina, Crema, Rajana, Romey, Kassi and Anil
There is something extremely special about this family and if I'm honest - they are in the rare percentage of families that I've met here at the Mela Ground gypsy camp that are actively trying to help themselves, the parents seem to really love and adore eachother and actually nuture and genuinely love their children. They have made the most of every opportunity they've been given. As soon as the children were sponsored to be put into school, the father - Aslam - stopped drinking completely and they have a 100% attendance record.
Baby Crema outside her tent
Hema, the mother, was born in a slum in Mumbai and moved to Pushkar after her arranged marriage, she is a cleaner for the Vikas Project school and earns £10 a month.The father, Aslam, was born in a small village near to Bundi, and recycles old plastic from the slum to raise extra money. Their family caste is Nath, although people call them 'Magic Caste' due to all of the family members being extraordinary magicians. The caste system is still very much prevalent in conservative Rajasthan, more so than any other state in India. Your caste denotes your social status and, in ost cases, your profession before you are even conceived. Different paths in life are closed of to them at birth, and in the vast majority of cases each individual repeats the same cycle as every ancestor who predeceased them. They face prejudice based on their caste name alone.
Anil and Kassi
Their son - Anil - is one of the brightest and most inspiring children I have ever met. He has begged on the streets of Pushkar since he was 3, but always created his own magic show rather than just asking for money. Around two years ago he started to go to school through a tourist's donation. He is very intelligent, studies extremely hard and excels at his school, usually coming first in every exam! I count Anil as a genuine friend, I really enjoy his company and find him to be the most truthful of all the children I've met in the Mela Ground. I spend every day in Pushkar with Anil after school and eat dinner with the family, who share their food with me as if I was their family.
Tofina - his eldest sister (10)- was a rag picker on the streets up until last year. She now has a sponsor and is going to school for the first time in her life. She is soft and gentle and has a real strength about her, she spends a lot of her night caring for baby Crema and helping with work.
Rajana is one of my most favourite people in the whole world... my heart bursts with love for her, she speaks only a little English but everything she expresses is just pure hilarious loveliness... she is a very very special child and wants to be a teacher when shes older.
Rajana and baby Crema
Their family lives on a piece of scrubland outside of Pushkar which is government owned, under a tent which I bought them a few years before, but really is just a sheet of thick plastic that doesn't weather well in the heavy monsoons, scorching day temperatures and cold nights. Their lives are hard, they live hand to mouth, the children wake at 3am to walk to the water pump to wash themselves and to prepare breakfast on a fire they make from burning whatever they can find. After school Anil goes to market to make money by performing his magic to tourists and begging and then comes home to help with dinner, at night it is extremely cold and they must sleep all 8 of them on the sandy floor of their small tent with blankets covering their faces so the rats that their tent is infested with don't bite at their faces.
Tofina when she was a ragpicker
Six months ago they were aggressively forced to move from their spot to a spot further outside of Pushkar, now it is happening again. Concrete bollards have been erected all around their camp (which other desperate families live in as well) and they have been aggressively told to move again. They are living in fear and dread as they have nowhere to go and a young baby to look after, their lives are already hard enough. The government are currently trying to eradicate beggars from Pushkar and there seems to be no care or consideration as to where they go. They need around £2000 to buy a piece of land, and have said that they want to try and get £300 together for it to contribute themselves. If they had a piece of land then they wouldn't be violently threatened for being on it... and then they could work towards building their own house on it. If anyone wants to donate they and I would be so greatful! I will then pass it on to the TOLFA Vikas Project who are going to complete the legalities of purchasing the land.
Aslam and Hema
Any help would be so much appreciated and I would like to tell them the different backgrounds of the people in the outside world who care about them. They are such special individuals and really all have such potential, they just don't belong in this situation.
Kassi and Romey
Our money goes so much further out in India.
We need to share what we have with those who are equally as deserving but less fortunate than ourselves
For more pictures look here:
So many thanks!