Barakat’s initiatives in India are based in the Bhadohi district of the north Indian state, Uttar Pradesh, and are coordinated by our local subsidiary NGO, Barakat Society India. This area isi comprised of the neighboring districts of Mirzapur and Benaras, known as the “carpet belt” of India. This region, which manufactures and sells approximately 80 percent of Indian-made carpets (both for export and domestic sale), is the traditional home of the Indian carpet-making industry.
Like many regions that are host to cottage industries, Bhadohi is steeped in poverty. Poor families, most of whom cannot afford school fees, are likely to send their children to work in order to gain additional income rather than send them to school. In addition, the quality of education at local schools is often so poor that even parents who are willing to send their children to school would rather send them to work.
Because of this trend, more than 90 percent of the students in our schools are first-generation learners in their family, and at least 90 percent of the students come from families that live below the poverty line, or just above it, taking jobs that provide a small daily wage but have no health insurance or liability coverage.
Women in this area also have few opportunities for education. While some of them can earn a meager wage through a meager business undertaking, most of them are illiterate and unable to improve their business, which would provide more income for their family and, in many cases, allow them to send their children to school.
Chris Walter, the co-founder of Barakat, began working in Bhadohi in 1992. It had always been his dream to start a school which would provide free and quality education to children in Bhadohi. Walter and his business partners in India, Zaid-Alam Carpets, teamed up for this project, and Barakat provided the funding, while Zaid-Alam Carpets donated land for the construction of a new school building.
In 2004, construction on the school began, so Barakat began its classes in a rented building in Oazipur. In June 2009, the school building was completed, and welcomed its first cohort of students the following August. The school serves students through 4th grade. There are 214 students, 102 of which are female.
Care & Fair Barakat School
Care & Fair Barakat School began with one man’s vision of starting a school in his village of Samhai, Laxmanpatti in the Bhadohi district of Uttar Pradesh. In 1982, Mr. Kant Lal, the current principal of the school, and his wife, who is now teaching in the Women’s Empowerment Program (also in India), started a small school under the trees. They named the school Grameen Shishu Vidya Mandir, or, ‘Temple of Knowledge for Village Children’. Enthusiastic about seeing a school built for their children, the villagers contributed money and land. By 1996 the school had become a small three-room building, which is now used for the Women’s Empowerment program.
However, financial problems plagued the school until the arrival of Care & Fair, a German-based child-welfare organization. Care & Fair took over management of the existing school in 1998-99 and began constructing a new school building. In 2000, construction was halted because of a shortage of funds, and Barakat stepped in with support. By August of 2002, the new building was complete, and Care & Fair Barakat School was born. All running expenses, as well as the salaries for the teachers were paid by Barakat till 2006.
To learn more about the Care & Fair Barakat School, please visit http://www.care-fair.org/projects/barakat-school.html (the school is no longer supported or affiliated with Barakat).
Other Projects in India