When Hope Faded
In February 2021, we hoped that the schools around Bandhavgarh which had remained closed since March 2020 would reopen in April 2021. Our hope faded as March 2021 progressed and hundreds of thousands of new COVID cases were reported across India each day. Once again Bandhavgarh was in total lockdown, and there was no hope of the schools reopening before 01 July 2021.
Long Term Impact and Your Amazing Support
We continue to worry about the long term impacts of no schooling for more than a year for Bandhavgarh’s poorest children. These impacts will be felt by the forest and its wild tigers not only in the short term but also for many years to come. Without education, the prospects for many of these children will be limited to picking tendu leaves, mahua flowers, amla fruit, etc., from the forest to sell; and to clearing forest habitat to create land to grow food to live. Whilst the children of the wealthier families have had access to online learning facilities, there are no such opportunities in the poorest families who live simple lives without electricity.
Throughout the pandemic, your support for our work has been amazing. We definitely couldn’t have kept wild tigers safe without your help. Now, as the latest wave of infection decimates India’s people regardless of who they are or where they are from, the hope for a brighter future for some of the poorest children in rural India has faded.
Help was and is Still Needed….
In Bandhavgarh, many people have faced the biggest challenges of their lives with no work and the schools having been closed since 25 March 2020. For the thousands of young children with no access to schooling at all, there is the question as to whether they will ever return to education. These children without computers or mobile phones, without electricity in their homes, are the children which Tigers4Ever has always tried to help. By giving these children books and basic writing materials we give them hope. We give them a chance to go to school which otherwise they may not have. That is impossible right now. In September 2020, we were approached by another NGO in Bandhavgarh, which wanted to set up classes for these children, in a rented room with a few computers and two teachers. So these poor children could access online learning. The project would cost £17000 (US$24150) including renting the property and its utility bills, equipment and teachers’ wages, but we couldn’t help beyond providing writing materials and books, as we simply didn’t have the funds. Nine months later, the same funds are still needed but we don’t have the means to help.
For Children like Sonali, Hope Faded
In our last report, we told you Sonali’s story, and how COVID19 has impacted her dreams. Sonali turned 13 years old just a few weeks after our last report. Her chances of returning to the state school she attended in a neighbouring village fade each day. Sonali liked school; she had learned to count, to read and to write and had started to dream. With each passing day her hope of completing her education and getting a job as a teacher or nurse or wildlife ranger fade away. Now Sonali faces the very real prospect of being married and never completing her education. When Sonali reaches 14 years old, her parents will try to get a dowry together so that Sonali can get married and have a family of her own. These days Sonali spends most of her days planting seeds in the field for the next vegetable crop, she must wonder if she will ever see her friends from school again, let alone fulfil her dreams. Sonali isn’t alone in this situation; there are thousands of children just like her, desperate for a chance in life but facing the reality that it probably won’t come.
If We Could Make a Difference We Would
We want to help families like Sonali’s to ensure that the poorest children get a chance to complete their education too. So when this COVID19 nightmare ends we’ll be looking to fund scholarships at a new school in Bandhavgarh too, in the meantime, we’d still like to provide education packs for when the schools reopen too. If you’d like to be continually involved in supporting the education of rural children in Bandhavgarh like Sonali and those who are younger than her, you can start a monthly recurring donation from just £5 per month, which will make a huge difference in offering future education for them. The link to start a recurring donation is: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/education-saves-tigers/?show=recurring. If we can find funds for some computers to help the NGO set up a learning centre for the poorest children, we would like to make a difference for those children too.
Imagine the Difference
The sense of despair and uncertainty which has been brought about by COVID19 has to end sometime, hopefully soon. So it would be truly amazing if out of this despair we were able to give at least 100 children, like Sonali, a chance to return to school and learn the skills which they will need if they are to become tiger protectors, teachers, nurses or doctors in the future? You can make that happen too with a donation of £25 (US$36) we can send 5 children to school https://goto.gg/32565.
Remember: when we provide education packs and scholarships for children living with wild tigers we are reducing the risk of future tiger habitat destruction AND ensuring that these children have the opportunity to become future tiger protectors. I would like to thank you for your generosity and support on behalf of the wild tigers, which we are keeping safe; on behalf of the children who we have previously helped to get an education (and their families who will have food because of this help); and on behalf of the wider tiger community in Bandhavgarh, which benefits from providing books and writing equipment for inclusion in the education packs which we distribute. Stay Safe in these challenging times.