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Thinking Outside the Bus

This is Anita. I met her a handful of weeks ago on a visit to Vision Rescue’s programs in Mumbai. She is one of the incredible community managers that Vision Rescue have hired in the last three years as they have developed their work to “think outside the bus”. In just three years they have been able to increase their impact from approximately 1000 children to directly impacting over 10,000 people each year. This ten-fold increase didn’t come from a ten-fold increase in funding (although I’m sure they would like that as well!) but it came from narrowing the focus of their mission, placing clear and achievable goals and outcomes around their work and being singularly dedicated to keeping their target group front and centre of their work.

Their focus has always been on education for the children who, for various reasons, can’t access education in Mumbai, but it is these very barriers that caused Vision Rescue to look outside their existing model of bringing a bus into a community to running non-formal education programs.

In the last three years Vision Rescue has hired community workers like Anita to work directly with the families of the children they are targeting, creating plans to help the family overcome the issues relating to their children not enrolled or sustained in education. It is this focus that has led to over 900 families in their two target communities having a specific case manager ensuring that the children in the program are sustained in education.

In 2016, Vision Rescue had a dream of being able to gain access into the public schools to assist them in improving their facilities and programs so that the children that they were sending and enrolling in those schools were more likely to stay in school and not drop out. Today, Vision Rescue have programs in 14 local public schools in Mumbai, running teacher appreciation sessions, self defense and sporting programs specifically aimed at kids at risk of drop out and are soon to start their teacher training modules in these public schools.

Three years ago, Vision Rescue began with 495 children enrolled in formal education through schools and providing early childhood education in a preschool in one community. Today, they have 1397 children in formal education through public, private and preschools. This exponential increase is a phenomenal achievement and we are cheering them on all the way! But the real power of Vision Rescue lies in people like Anita who are dedicated and tireless in their care and belief that there is a better future for the children and is giving her life to making that a reality.

Catherine Thambiratnam
Head of Social Justice, Hillsong Australia