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Tucked away behind imposing office buildings in Okhla lies a narrow lane almost invisible to people, leading to a maze of narrow streets, densely packed with houses. Here, resides Sanju Devi along with her family of seven, in a miniscule room on rent. Two people cannot move comfortably without displacing ten other things here.

Responsibility came early to Sanju Devi. With her parents frequently travelling to AIIMS to treat her younger sibling, she was unable to study beyond grade 5, and took care of the other siblings. Today she takes care of her family of five, and the adopted children of her sister in law after her passing. She is trying to break the cycle and build a different life for her children by providing them with opportunities to explore the world around them, but not without an extreme amount of stress.

"Isliye hum Delhi mein reh rahe hain, kyunki yahan ka mahool gaon se alag hai, yahan padhyai achi hai. Main chahti hun mere bacche mere jaise na bane, wo ache se padhyai karen. Wo kuch bane life mein aur apne aap par vishwas ho unhe. Bolna sikhte hain bacche ache se. Par ye bhi dikkat hai ki sheher mein 5 bacchon ko kaise palenge."

Amidst her daily stresses of storing water, access to a bathroom and cooking meals, being part of Meraki’s program is crucial for her. Her enthusiasm is visible when she volunteers for the different activities conducted in the workshop. She addresses her issues during support visits and engages with our technology on a regular basis, by interacting with our BOT post-workshop. Catch her in action:

"Pehle main tension mein rehti thi, to bacchon ko bas daant ke bitha deti thi. Unse kuch baat nahi karti thi. Lekin jab se maine meeting mein aana shuru kiya hai tab se mujhe kuch change aya hai. Main hamesha yaad rakhti hun ki kab kaunsi activity karni hai aur main ek samay banaya hai din ka jisme karti hun. Is se mere bacchon ka time-table banane mein madad mili hai. Unhe ab yaad hota hai kis samay kya karna hai."

Her active participation during and after the workshops validates the direction of our intervention. Support visits with her challenge us to think deeply about assistance parents like her require beyond just activities. She recently conveyed how how she would try to make her own activities after the program gets over by looking through the kits and recalling the knowledge she has received through our workshops. Amazing.

Picture of Sonam, the author of this case study
Documented by Sonam Grover, Sr. Ops. Associate
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