The boys and girls Franklin takes in have often experienced more violence and fear in their first two to four years of life than many of us have in our entire lives. And even though they are grateful for this unique opportunity, for many it is not easy to fit into the orderly daily routine and peaceful community of the Pilar Fathers.
In the various day nurseries of the order, the 2 to 3-year old kids learn what it means to be friendly with other people, how to solve conflicts without violence and which values and rules apply here. Regular washing, teeth brushing, and basic personal hygiene are taught. The day nurseries are also hostels in which the admitted children eat and sleep as well. Only when the children have been socialized after 6 to 12 months to the extent that they can integrate well into a group, are they ready for kindergarten.
Not only are personal hygiene and non-violent coexistence completely foreign to many children, but playing, singing, dancing and laughing must also be learned from scratch. In kindergarten, the boys and girls learn what it means to be a child. They make friends, strengthen their group membership and develop into happy, fearless children.
Until the age of 6 they learn good social behavior and are prepared for school by painting, singing and playing. As in the nursery, all children also receive a regular meal a day, healthy drinking water and a safe place to sleep. Unlike the nurseries, the kindergartens (Balwadis) of the Pilar Fathers are also open to children who return to their parents in the slums in the evening.
From the age of 6 years, the boys and girls change to primary school. Here they receive their school uniforms for the first time and learn reading, writing and arithmetic. During this time the boys and girls live in their respective hostels and go to school during the day, which is also attended by external children. This mixture of orphans in the care of the Pilar Fathers with other children from different backgrounds is important to promote mutual understanding.
Just like the nursery and kindergarten, the school is maintained by the Pilar Fathers and financed by donations. Nevertheless, it is state-approved and enables the children to graduate after four years. Depending on their personal situation and learning success, all children can then attend the higher secondary school. As a rule, all of Franklin's children take advantage of this opportunity and transfer to secondary school.
Attending a secondary school is by no means a matter of course, especially for the lower classes in India. To offer this precious opportunity to as many children as possible, the Pilar Fathers founded the Prakash Vidhyalaya Higher Secondary School many years ago. German donations were used to construct a spacious school building in which around 1,200 girls and boys from grade 5 to grade 12 are taught.
The school grounds cover a gigantic 60 hectares and offer space for many other facilities that have been added over the years. Thus, the boys' and girls' hostel, in which the orphans who have been accepted live, is also located here. The sewing school, which was built in 2015 by IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V., as well as the beekeeping and the new buffalo farm have also found their place here.
The school is also "mixed", so that not only the children from the hostels, but also children from the surrounding families are taught here. The state-approved school ends with the high school graduation, which qualifies students to study at a university or college. Every year about 40 young people achieve this school-leaving certificate, which is highly regarded, especially because of its Christian sponsorship.
Thanks to German donors and the Christian charity of the Pilar Fathers, the former street and orphans have taken a life path that changes everything. Instead of being exploited in quarries, cellar workshops or foreign sewing factories, they have enjoyed 12 years of school education. An absolute privilege that opens good career opportunities and almost certainly leads them out of poverty.
But unfortunately, in many parts of India social status still counts more than talent, hard work and knowledge. For this reason, many school leavers find it difficult to find a suitable training position. Attending other vocational schools costs money, the majority learn "on-the-job" and are completely exposed to their superiors without certificates or employment contracts.
For this reason, the IndienHilfe Deutschland e.V. maintains numerous training projects and enables the best school leavers to train as nurses, in the technical field or as students at the university in Bhopal. The successes speak for themselves and those who are now perhaps working as Diploma Engineer Trainers for international companies were still living on the streets without hope just a few years ago. These people owe no less than their lives to the German donors!