Reporting by ChildFund India
Finish school, or quit and get a job to help support the family?
No child should face that choice. The fact is that in developing countries, many do. Tasleema did.
The third of seven children in her family, Tasleema grew up in one of the poorest communities in Karnataka, in southwest India. Still, her family’s situation was fairly stable, especially once the little girl was enrolled into ChildFund India’s programs and assigned a sponsor as a first-grader.
Two years later, Tasleema’s father had a heart attack and had to stop working. ChildFund’s support made it possible for Tasleema to continue her education while her mother kept the family afloat by working as a cook for a nearby school.
But by the time Tasleema reached the upper grades, her family’s needs had begun to outpace her mother’s income. Tasleema looked at her family’s meager means, her mother’s toiling, her father’s medical expenses — and felt she could no longer pursue what seemed the luxury of an education rather than doing whatever she could to help support the people she loved. She left school before completing 11th grade and set out in search of a job.
There were none to be found.
Everywhere she went, she was turned away for lack of employable skills — especially computer literacy. No matter how hard she had worked while in school, no one had use for an unskilled high-school dropout.
But she still had her connection with ChildFund. When ChildFund India staff became aware of Tasleema’s predicament, they invited her to participate in a short-term, combination computer skills-and-English language course. She completed it in three and a half months.
The employment pages of the newspaper now offered new possibilities.
A pharmacy needed a computer operator. Tasleema applied and got the job. Her new salary is enough for her to no longer need ChildFund’s services.
In fact, it is enough for this 18-year-old girl to meet the basic needs of her family, including her father’s medical expenses. It is enough for to take the load off her mother.
What’s left helps pay for her younger siblings’ education — and the greater chance that they’ll take their schooling all the way.