The Sufi Saint School currently has around 360 students. 70% of them come from poor or very poor families (monthly income 30-50 Euros) and the remainder 30 % from low income families (monthly income 60 – 100 Euros).
To be able to attend the school is a privilege for the children. Some of them must work after school hours to help their family earn enough to keep going.
40 % of the children are girls, which for India, where still, often, only boys are allowed to attend school, is a very high percentage.
Most of the children are Muslim or Hindu, and some Jain and Sikh, and they belong to a large number of different cultural groups and castes.
In the Sufi Saint School the children celebrate together their various religious festivals, learning to know and understand each other and become friends.
That all the children wear a uniform means that the differences between them are not visible and indeed normally play no role inside the school. The values of peace and equality between all religions are practiced harmoniously within the school and the children internalize them.
This must be seen in the context of continuous religious unrest and the still current caste system.
For the children of the low castes and especially the Dalit caste (the so called “Untouchables), from which about a quarter of the student population is drawn, the self-esteem and new perspectives which they learn at school are especially important, allowing them to gain a school diploma is a way of being liberated from a degrading lifestyle and social status.
Photo: Six sisters- all students at the Sufi Saint School. The two eldest had to leave the school early to help their parents with their Washing business.