by Nicole Duciaume
ChildFund Regional Sponsorship Coordinator
Americas Regional Office
Venkatesh, a third-grader, looks a lot like his older brother Daniel, but he is a bit more outspoken. As we chat, his father guides us toward their family’s house.
As we walk past the kindergarten center, where the youngest of the three brothers is enrolled in pre-school activities, Venkatesh tells me that he remembers going there as well when he was younger. He has many good memories of a picnic, and a drawing competition where he won the gold medal for a picture he drew of a house. He also talks a little about his ChildFund sponsor and about writing letters back and forth.
Venkatesh tells me about his daily routine and the importance of school. He hopes to be an administrator collector, what I understood through the translator to be somewhat of a mayor. He aspires to the job so that he can one day “build a school for all the children in the area.”
In fact, going to school is his favorite part of the community. He beams when he explains that he likes talking to his father, especially when sharing news of his good marks in school. Overhearing our conversation, Venkatesh’s father smiles proudly and says, “Children should study so they could make changes in the community.”
The change that Venkatesh most wants is a better road in the settlement because the current one is made of packed dirt with many rocks that children fall over while playing ball. As proof, he rolls up his pant leg to his knee and begins counting the scars. But he smiles again as he tells me the fun he had playing hide-and-seek and ball with his brothers and friends.
I want to know what else make Venkatesh and Daniel happy. They quickly respond that being able to stay with their parents is important. Before ChildFund India and the Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society began serving this settlement, the children’s parents would travel to find food and work. Often, the boys would stay behind with elders and go a long time without seeing their parents.
Now the family is able to stay together in the community.
Tomorrow, I learn more about the art of henna.