Dear Students, Dear Colleagues and Dear Parents,
On behalf of Darbari Waldorf School, I would like to thank you for the gift you have given us from WOW Day funds. It is an invaluable gift that not only provides essential financial support, but it’s also a sign of solidarity at this difficult time of the pandemic.
The pandemic hit India hard last spring. The numbers of infections rose incredibly fast. Schools were closed for more than 10 months, beginning in March 2020 – this has been a disaster for children from poor and educationally disadvantaged families. The pandemic caused a return to old habits. Many families sent their children to work, even though this is illegal. Some boys even had to labour in the quarries. The number of child marriages also increased again, especially in poor, rural areas. Young Sushyia, who had been at school with us for five years, was married off in July at the age of 14. Due to the pandemic, we could not talk to her parents and dissuade them from marrying off their daughter.
We are going through a really difficult time. I admire you all very much because despite the pandemic, you had the strength to make this WOW Day successful! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
HOW DO THE CHILDREN GET TO THE DARBARI WALDORF SCHOOL?
The Darbari Waldorf School stands at the entrance to the village of Darbari. Most of the students come on foot. For this, the children must get up very early. Firstly, they fetch water from the well to wash themselves. Even if they are very poor and do not have running water, the children want to arrive at school clean. Most of the time they don't have a proper breakfast and are satisfied with leftover chapatis (a traditional flat bread), from the day before.
It is not uncommon for children to encounter dromedaries, goats and cows in the wild on their way to school! Pupils from remote villages sleep and live at school and only return home during holidays; otherwise, the journey would be too long. Arriving at school in the morning is always a powerful and moving moment. We all gather in a circle and sing in Hindi, English, French and Marwali before everyone goes to their classroom. Every morning is a new promise of hope!
About the school
Darbari Waldorf School was founded in 2016 and offers education to 40 pupils and students aged between 5 and 17. Almost all the children come from the "untouchable" caste, the lowest tier of a system that is now officially outlawed in India.
Darbari lies in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, a harsh region. This stony desert with its sparse vegetation and extreme heat (temperatures go up to 50° Celsius), covers 200,000 square kilometres. The drought, blistering heat, simple living conditions and great poverty lead to the sober character of the Bhil people. There is a 70% illiteracy rate in our remote area. The children get little education, only 5% complete school.
The Darbari School wants to give dignity to the members of the "untouchable" caste. We want to help people develop into free individuals, regardless of caste, gender, social status and religion. For girls from the age of 13, going to school is the only way to escape an arranged marriage. Parents are increasingly resisting family pressure and sending girls to our school instead of marrying them off beforehand.