Thoa Bui, Holt’s vice president of programs and services, shares about her recent visit to a Holt sponsor and donor-supported daycare program for the children of migrant families in Bangalore, India.
During my trip to India in October 2022, I visited a daycare program in Bangalore that’s supported by Holt sponsors and donors like you. The facility was just remodeled with Holt’s funding support, and it gave me a warm feeling as I walked through — knowing the children could enjoy a much more equipped space. During my visit, a girl caught my attention. She stood up and led her classmates in reading the alphabet. Her name was Sita, and she seemed quite a leader and very smart. She is 5 years old and with the support of a sponsor, she has been attending the daycare program for a year now. She is learning the alphabet, math, crafts and character development, and because of her sponsor, she receives nutritious food every day she attends daycare.
Originally from Tamil Nadu, Sita migrated to Bangalore with her parents, grandparents and brother. Her father works in security and when they first came to the city, he was the only breadwinner of the family, which made it hard to make ends meet. Thankfully, Sita’s mother later found a job in the same company.
Sita’s family is an example of many migrant families that sponsors support through the daycare program in Bangalore — a region of the country and the world where there is a big need for these kinds of services.
According to a 2020 UNICEF report, every fifth migrant in India is a child. And in 2011, the year of the most recent Census, nearly 93 million internal child migrants were dispersed across the country, with today’s figures likely to be much higher. That’s why, in 2017, I joined Holt’s local partner organization, Vathsalya Charitable Trust, to visit a site where migrant families lived in Bangalore and assess the needs of the children and their families. What I saw was beyond what words could describe. One site housed more than 500 migrant families and their children, each in extremely small plastic tent housing near a construction site where many of the parents worked. They had no electricity or running water. A large number of small children on bare feet ran around the site. One could tell they did not attend daycare or preschool.
In India, families move to Bangalore or other big cities to find jobs so they can grow their income and provide for their children. Child migrants are often vulnerable because they lack healthcare and don’t have enough to eat, causing them to grow easily sick and malnourished. Children who are a bit older may work to help support their family while young child migrants, ages 3-5, have no one to watch them during the day while their parents work. My immediate thought when I visited in 2017 was the possible abuse the children may experience while unsupervised all day.
The need for safe daycare programming was obvious.
Today, Holt sponsors and donors support two daycare programs for migrant children that provide a safe place for them to play, study and grow while their parents work. The program also prepares the children with skills they will need to be successful when they start public school. Parents are engaged with daycare teachers and programs to support their children’s learning and development, and many children have successfully gone on to Grade 1 after attending the daycare program.
During my recent visit, I left the daycare with the image of Sita confidently leading the classroom. Thank you for supporting your sponsored child, and for supporting vital services for children like Holt’s daycare program in India and other early education programs in countries around the world. Thank you for giving children a chance to gain new skills and grow their confidence!
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