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Babu's electrifying path to success

Renee Schreurs

Babu is 16 years old. He finished his 10th standard last year. Babu has always attended government school because he couldn’t gain admission to the big private school other children from our project attend. In government schools the class sizes are huge with usually one teacher to teach all subjects. It’s a very challenging environment for children to learn and it’s common for children in the community to reach their teens and drop out of school entirely. Babu carried on with his education in government school thanks to the encouragement of his parents and our support supplying him with equipment, uniform and extra tuition.

However, Babu has always been very open about how difficult he finds school. He once gave an analogy to one of our social workers, who has a bad shoulder, that asking him to continue studying in school after 10th standard was like asking her to pick up a 10L can of water with only her bad arm.

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Babu is hands-on - he enjoys fixing things and making things work. Give him a punctured bike tire or a broken toy and he’ll sort it.  He absolutely hates exams and writing.

As Babu didn’t want to continue with school past 10th standard, we and his parents started to apply pressure and ask the question ‘what next, Babu?’. After putting lots of suggestions to Babu and thinking about where his strengths lie we suggested going to technical college to learn a trade. Babu decided upon training to become an electrician – there will be some exams as part of the course but the majority is practically assessed!

Babu has also taken on the management of our organisations’ cow and her calf. He is in charge of organising all the older boys in cultivating food for the animals, feeding them and milking them daily. The cow provides milk and curd for all the children.

Each day Babu catches the bus to college and studies in the morning, he returns home at around 2pm and spends the rest of the afternoon tending to the cows and fixing things around the house.

Babu has always been the one we turn to when a fan needs mending or the power is out. We’re so pleased to be able to support him in this next chapter of his education and we’re looking forward to him being able to make a living through his chosen profession.

In the next few years more of the children in our programmes will reach an age where they can make decisions about their future and all of them will take slightly different paths. It’s important to us that they have the freedom to pick a path that will not only earn them an acceptable income, but that suits them and they can enjoy too.

As always, thank you for supporting our projects. We’re pleased to be able to bring you positive stories like Babu’s.