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Education Plus Sustainable Freedom For Over 130 Villagers


Context of the project challenge

For just an $18 loan, entire families in India can be enslaved for generations. When first given the loan, they are grateful to the moneylender who gave them  money for an emergency such as medicine for their sick children.  But then the money lenders charge exorbitant interest rates and the debt is impossible to pay off.

That means that villagers who can’t read, write or count are tricked into working endless hours for the money-lender. They can’t get get away and are beaten if they try. Thanks to that one loan, they are slaves.

Slavery is illegal, but these people don’t know it. Child slaves are forced to work along side their parents. There are no schools and it seems that there is no chance for a better future.

Schools4Freedom can change that

Back in 2013 RAGAS Member Carol Metzker championed the project’s holistic approach to tackling issues for children at risk. The project, developed  by Voices4Freedom, looks to educate child slaves and free an entire village from slavery.
Carol compiled an invitation to Rotarians around the world, through RACSNews, to raise some $36,000. Carol asked Rotarians “What if you could teach children to read, provide them with food, and free an enslaved village… all in one  project?” A project that includes

  •  Sustainable freedom for some 150 villagers.
  •  Permanent roof for school to keep intense sun and rain off children so they can study. The type of roof or  pavilion—or structure with thatching or latticework for walls—varies in different villages.
  • Two teachers.
  • Hot lunches for children.
  • Solar streetlight.
  • Educational supplies.
  • Vocational training and education on child and adult rights.
  • Documentation and video.

This was supported by a supporting budget and a timeline of events and prospective achievements over the project duration of three years.

By late 2015 the fundraising programme was complete. Thanks to donations from twelve individual Rotarians, thirteen Rotary clubs, one Rotaract club and additional donors, the groundwork was laid to do the heavy work of freeing a village.

As will be seen in Carol’s first Update (RACSNews 63) the hamlet chosen lies outside of Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.Here are some of the S4F village childrenschool’s first intake

  • Of the 400 villagers, 132 are in debt bondage slavery working in slaveholders’ brick kilns, farm and construction projects. Others are at risk for enslavement because of abject poverty, illiteracy and lack of knowledge of human rights. That will change.
  • Currently only two or three villagers can write their own name.
  • 75 children will attend this School4Freedom (S4F). They will be their family’s first generation to go to school.

See how the project progresses by subscribing to RAGAS’s free Newsletter

 Would your Club like to free another village? Show the video and enjoy giving the gift of freedom

Project updates 

The first update was extensively published in RACSNews 63 and via this link

The 2nd update from Carol Metzker is published in full here. and in RAGASnews 69. Highlights for Q2 2016 (April – June 2016) are …

  1. Six children brought out of child slavery at the slaveholder’s brick kiln – they’re now at the school
  2. 29 villagers received health/medical exams
  3. 34 children are now registered to get help with the Integrated Child Development System.

The update includes info on frontline workers’ progress, a report from a teacher and two case studies (one child, one adult in the village). Rotarians recognize that this quarter the project touched a three of the six focus areas:

  • basic education and literacy
  • disease treatment and prevention
  • maternal and child health care
The 3rd (very comprehensive) update from Carol is published in full here. It will also feature in the upcoming Newsletter. Highlights for Q3 2016 (June – Sept 2016) are …
  1. The school is up and in session. Kids are learning alphabet in English and Hindi.
  2. Some community members filed a grievance with government officials about their debt bondage slavery.
  3. A women’s self-help group has been formed (that later leads to vocation training and income for self-sufficiency).
  4. Slaveholder continues to push back.Frontline workers continue conversations among villagers, government, etc.