As children in many countries finish their summer holidays and prepare to go back to school, there is one group of children who are particularly excited. In Mumbai, India, 1397 children have been enrolled into Vision Rescue’s Beacon Learning Centres for the coming school year.
These learning centres truly are beacons in the slum communities of Mumbai. For many children who are not enrolled in formal schooling, the streets become their schoolyard – tough and unforgiving places of learning that cause kids to go down pathways they never should have to go down.
Children like Sahil.
There was a time when 10-year-old Sahil spent his days getting into street fights. His siblings would go to the municipal school, but Sahil would run off every morning onto the narrow gullies of his slum community, get into scrapes, use colourful language and playing in the dirt with his gang.
His parents had lost hope for him. For the family of six living on the erratic income of his father, Sahil’s escapades meant one less child to pay for with the pricey commute to school.
So Sahil stayed on the streets until one day he met a Vision Rescue community worker who encouraged him to swap the wily, street smarts for a love of learning that could help him break out of a life of poverty.
Sahil agreed to try the classroom. He barely lasted a few days before he ran off to the streets again.
Not to be deterred, his community worker began building a rapport with him and counselling him about the life-changing value of education. Sahil resisted at first but grew to build a relationship with the community worker and started attend class more frequently.
Over several months, his attitude changed and he began to take pride in wearing the Beacon Learning Centre uniform.
A year has passed since that first encounter with the community worker and his parents can barely recognise the new Sahil. They are so grateful for people who chose to believe in him when he was at his lowest point, investing in his education and gifting him hope and dreams for a bright future.
Today Sahil is at school just like his older siblings.
“I want to become a pilot when I grow up!” says Sahil.
With your support through the Hillsong Foundation, Vision Rescue is seeing children like Sahil step into a world of opportunities through the power of an education.