The Pavement Club
I’ve always loved working with children. It actually started when I was in my late teens and helped as a “study class” assistant in our parish school. Two classrooms were kept open from 6 to 8 pm so children living in cramped homes could study in peace and were also provided help with subjects they found difficult.
And now, almost 40 years later, Monday to Thursday afternoons, I can be found at the Pavement School. I am a volunteer at The Pavement Club & School which is an outreach programme of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Columba, Mumbai. Approximately 200 children come here irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Most of them are keen to study and are given help to build their sense of self-worth. The Pavement Club gives a street kid an opportunity to study in a safe and peaceful environment, a healthy meal, help with studies, fun & games and most essentially, receive a little love.
Our daughter, Simone, volunteered here in her university days. Evenings at home, she would talk about her work with compassion and love.
The Pavement Club was started in 1991 to provide basic education and skills to under-privileged street children. The head is Mr Lawrence, who has been building wonderful relationships with the kids, down the years he has enriched their lives in many ways. He has been watching and supporting them as they learn and grow and sometimes shares his experiences and memories with us. Many of these children started coming to the Pavement School when they were 4 and continued till they turned 16 and went to university.
preparing for the next school day
Mr. Rocky Fernandes supervising play time
Young volunteers from St. Xavier's College helping with homework
Most of these children stay in makeshift shelters on pavements or in hutments. They attend local municipal (BMC) schools where the fees are very low. BMC Schools are open in the mornings. After school, they come to the Pavement Club and do their homework from 2 in the afternoon till 4 pm. Then it’s play time in the grounds - till 4.30 pm when they are served a hot meal which comes from the kitchens of The Times of India, a leading daily.
The older children have special classes in computers, cooking, sewing and a complete course in Madhubani and Warli painting.
Friday is "Open Day". It's a day for fun and games. Occasionally magic shows, parties and ice cream treats are organised by corporate houses and others.
2 to 4 pm is when I help with homework or I carry a book from home and read out so they learn just that little bit more about the world outside India. I love seeing how their minds work and how excited they get about learning that there exist people of a different culture in the world outside. Very often I take along an album of photos of any one particular country I've visited and then an animated discussion takes place.
It is wonderful watching and learning the varying ways that children absorb information.
It’s always a joyful experience to share time with them in study and play. The welcoming smiles are a rich reward.
The photos below were taken by the InterContinental Hotel, Mumbai. They had organised lunch and a drawing competition for these street children.
Grace before meals
separate line for boys
The Pavement Club is financed entirely by private donors. Used clothes and accessories in good condition as also school bags, books and snacks are welcome.
You can visit the Pavement Club at http://www.pavementschoolmumbai.org/