Monday, 11 November 2013

Jitendra: malnourished, orphaned, but still top of his class.

Jitendra belongs to a very poor family. Unfortunately his parents died when he was very young at a time when the family needed them the most. His father, Jogendra Singh, was a watch man in a private company in Mumbai. His parents were physically very weak due to lack of proper nutrition and suddenly in the year 2009 his father had a severe heart attack and died. His mother could not bear this shock and after few months she also died from Tuberculosis. That was a great setback for Jitendra’s family; his four elder sisters and one elder brother. After this double tragedy they tried to recover from their situation and his two elder sisters got married in the year 2010 with the help of an uncle and both now live in their husbands' homes.  
Jitendra with his family
Jitendra lives with his two elder sisters, Sujata (15 years) and Pooja (13 years). Sujata left her studies after class 5 to remain at home and she does the household work and takes responsibility for her siblings. His other sister, Pooja, is studying in class 7 in a government school. Three years ago, Jitendra's elder brother stopped his education and went to Mumbai in search of a job and is now working as a taxi driver. The three children live in poor conditions; there are two rooms in the house, one brick room and another one made with mud. There are no facilities such as electricity, drinking water or toilet  and, for drinking water, they are totally dependent upon the government hand pump. They don’t have any property like agricultural land, cattle etc. 

Jitendra is very regular and punctual to school and works very hard. He goes to school daily in the morning with his elder sister Pooja, bare footed.  Their financial condition is so poor that they don’t have enough money to buy shoes. 

Jitendra and Pooja walking to school
His elder brother who lives in Mumbai sends 2000 Rupees (£20) every two months as the only source of income for his family, which is not sufficient to live on.  

After school Jitendra goes to the nearby fields to collect dry fire wood which his sister uses to prepare food as they have no other cooking fuel like a gas or kerosene stove.  After school he also works in his uncle’s agricultural field and in return for that, his uncle gives him some food grains and vegetables for daily consumption.

Jitendra playing Carom with classmates
We felt very sad when we realised that the reason that Jitendra only wants to play indoor games and has no interest in outdoor games is that he is physically very weak and always scared that he might get injured while playing cricket, kabaddi or football: if he were injured then how would his family arrange medicine for him? from where would the money come? Who would do his daily routine work? So, he just plays indoor games like carom, chess, ludo etc.  Jitendra has a very shy nature. He can sing well but he is a bathroom singer and always hesitates to perform in front of others. Thus he rarely takes part in the cultural activities at school. 

However, Jitendra is a very talented student and struggling hard just to exist and help his family. In the future he wants to be a doctor so that nobody in his area would die due to a lack of proper treatment as did his parents. In spite of his adverse living conditions he performed very well in the annual exam of class four held in March 2013, secured 98.62% marks and stood first in the class. His attendance record is 99% and Science, Math, Hindi and Drawing are his favourite subjects.

At home he studies in the sunlight and in the evening with the help of a candle or kerosene lamp. Due to malnutrition his eye sight has gradually become weak, so our school has provided him with spectacles after a proper check up from an eye hospital. 

Jitendra has a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day.

He tells us that he gets a proper meal only in school, and rarely has proper food at home. Project Mala is now providing him with full support. As he is physically very weak, Project Mala provides food supplements, vitamin pills and regular medical check-ups and his health is improving. 

Since he has been wearing glasses he has also found it easier to study.
We are confident that with continued support Jitendra will be able to do very well academically. He is certain to qualify for our Middle school next year and we will be keeping an eye on his progress and on his health.

Report written by Abhishek, Project Mala School, Guria.