Giving Kolkata Street Children an Opportunity to Attend School

8 February 2018

For children begging on the streets of Kolkata, there is little opportunity to go to school, so the cycle of poverty continues.

Helping Hands CC - first students

Cooperation Circle’s first two students, Abhishek and Aniket (in green shirts).

Shreyosi Biswas from Helping Hands, a Cooperation Circle in Kolkata, India, shares a success story from their youth education program. When underprivileged children show an interest in furthering their studies, the Cooperation Circle helps to send them to evening classes where they can learn English and the skills they need to build a better life.

The education program is especially impressive in the face of many challenges. As Shreyosi explains, “We can't keep them in foster homes as their parents won't allow us. They want their kids to be with them. Even though they don't want their kids to have the same kind of life that they're having, convincing them is hard, as begging is how they earn their livelihood. But still we are trying to educate the parents, that the only way out of this vicious circle of poverty is by being educated.”

Another challenge is keeping the children’s motivation strong in the face of many obstacles. “If we pressure them too much,” Shreyosi says, “they already have an escape route of going back to their earlier ways of begging on the streets of Kolkata.” So Cooperation Circle members must develop a careful balance of understanding, support, and encouragement. “We want them to grow the habit of going to school regularly, and also to enjoy education.”