This trying period has been harsh on our students, our teachers, their families. Online learning has had many challenges for underprivileged communities – lack of devices and connectivity in rural areas, pressure to work to contribute to the family income, pressure on girls to get married, and so much more. Many teachers and staff members in our projects come from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves, and their family incomes have been devastated.
In Asha Boston we have pledged to continue support for our projects through this time, supporting our project partners as they continue with their mission in many innovative ways. It is more important than ever to support these students and ensure that recent gains are not erased.
Madurai was initially hit badly by the pandemic and the Seed Narpanigal study centers were closed. As the lockdown was relaxed, the Karumbalai study centers were determined to have educational activities for youth volunteers and students. Given the extra time available when schools and colleges were closed, they focused on activities beyond the curriculum. English classes, and a series of lectures ‘Introduction to Language’ by a renowned Linguistics professor on Zoom were much appreciated by the youth. Best of all, all female volunteers were taught to drive two-wheelers and are on the verge of getting their licenses. As we have seen in many projects female empowerment is strongly linked to mobility, whether on bicycles or on two-wheelers. Now colleges are re-opening, and the yearly event of giving scholarships to students took place with masks and social distancing. Classes for X and XII have been re-started.
Asha Boston volunteers on a Zoom call College scholarships are distributed
with Asha Fellow Karthik Bharathi
Karthi has soldiered on in the face of personal tragedy. His sister passed away from heart failure during the early days of the pandemic, because private hospitals refused to admit patients with breathlessness symptoms.
The children and youth we support need to come out stronger than ever when the pandemic finally ends.