Islamic Relief is providing thousands of Indian children living in a slum with a real route out of poverty.

In Ahmedabad city, Gujarat, families uprooted by communal riots and urban development have been forced into slums with inadequate basic facilities. The city’s Bombay Hotel colony – home to around 40,000 people – has poor housing, drainage or sanitation and no schools or other basic civic services. With most living hand-to-mouth, few families are able to support the education of their children.

As a result, around 40 per cent of children in the area do not go to school. About one-third are pushed by poverty into work – often in the surrounding textile factories, scrap industry and iron manufacturing units. Others work as rubbish collectors, rag-pickers and scrap-sorters. With scarce access to education, few have a chance of building poverty-free futures.

Brighter futures for Bombay Hotel children

However, an Islamic Relief project – which began last summer – is giving the children of Bombay Hotel the chance to build brighter futures. Teaming up with local charity the Centre for Development, we are providing children with improved services and educational opportunities.

Almost 360 children have accessed the high-quality basic education on offer at our eight education centres. Each child receives specific support based on their particular learning needs. Of these, around 270 children have already progressed into mainstream government schools.

More than 1,700 other children have enrolled in schools as a result of our enrolment drive – the first of its kind in the area – and over 100 teachers have received training on child protection.

Improving child protection

Targeting mostly girls, the centres also educate children about gender equality, reproductive health, and child rights, as well as sexual abuse and domestic violence. More than 480 girls have received life skills training so far.

Children are also benefitting from eight child protection committees, which are mobilising communities to lobby public institutions on child rights and protection – with an emphasis on food security and shelter, as well as access to basic services.

Awareness-raising and community support is strengthening child protection and tackling key issues including dangerous child labour, the right to education, and abuse.

Almost 360 children and their families are able to access subsidised healthcare, in an initiative delivered in conjunction with Kothari hospital.

Mehzabin is studying again

Sahikh Mehzabin, 15, lives in Bombay Hotel. Her mother is the main breadwinner, with Mehzabin doing handicraft and making plastic garlands to help her family to pay the bills. She dropped out of school at eighth grade.

When her mother joined one of our education centres as a volunteer looking after children, Sahikh Mehzabin saw an opportunity to continue her studies. Having been out of school for a long time, she was nervous about making new friends – but with counselling and guidance she gained confidence.

A bright student, Mehzabin is now looking forward to her exams and further studies. She wants to be a teacher.

Islamic Relief has been working with local organisations in India since 1994, and our project in Bombay Hotel is amongst a range of development programmes that we are providing in the country.

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