In the Kullu Valley there are numerous shanty towns and slum dwellings inhabited by families from both India and Nepal. Most of their homes have no running water or toilet facilities – an outside tap or nearby river serving as their water source for laundry, bathing and cooking. Expectations among the children of these communities are generally very low because the government schools that serve them are shambolic and often the teachers don’t even turn up. The children are led to believe that, even if they excel in their studies, they will never get a good job because they will always be discriminated against due to their humble origins. They are encouraged to leave school early and live hand to mouth for the rest of their lives. Generate Love offers hope and a helping hand to those determined individuals who are intent on scrambling out of the poverty trap. We train and employ local teachers who, having grown up in these communities, understands the negative pressures holding these children down. We run homework clubs and offer free tuition in English and I.T. – mandatory skills for children wishing to go on to further education. We also run workshops and activities in numerous different subjects and fields to build confidence, expand skill sets and, essentially, to have fun.
Generate Love runs “pavement schools” for beggar children – teaching those willing how to read, write and draw. Some already know the basics; others haven’t even learned how to hold a pen. From April-October, there are hundreds of transient beggars, tinkers and pedlars living in tents in the Kullu Valley. The families send their children out onto the streets to either beg, sell balloons, or man a set of scales which passers-by can use in exchange for a few rupees. All the kids working on the high-street are under ten-years-old and some of them are as young as four (their diminutive forms loosening purse strings more effectively than their peers.) Older children and adults get demoted to the role of rag-picker scouring the streets and alleys for cardboard, plastic, metal… that can be cashed in at the scrap yard. Our classes work around the children’s schedules as it’s important not to deprive them of their means of subsistence. They are sweet, funny, and very respectful to their teachers. They are eager to learn and many request homework so that they can practice in their tents at night. Most of the parents are illiterate and, the mothers especially, ask if we can teach them as well. We would love, with your support, to employ another teacher to run both an adult literacy program and a kindergarten for six months of each year.
Generate Love provides scholarships for impoverished teenagers who, against all the odds, win a place at university or vocational college. We cover their tuition fees, books and basic living expenses. In exchange we ask them to perform fifty hours of community service per year - which usually involves teaching and mentoring in the beggar community or shanty town. We've had six of our kids make it to university so far but we expect many more in the forthcoming years due to the younger ones seeing the older ones succeed. Our first scholarship student graduated in 2020 and is now working in Dubai as a communications manager. His success has completely transformed his and his family's lives. His story inspires the kids that he's mentored who now truly believe that education is a path out of poverty.
Even when children excel at school they can face great resistance from their parents and communities who believe that by crushing their off-springs’ dreams they are saving them from a future of disappointment. This, as you can imagine, leads to poor mental health and feelings of profound worthlessness. We try to develop self-esteem by running yoga and meditation classes, vision board workshops, art classes, story-telling workshops and, most simply, by celebrating our students’ birthdays.
Adventure and Play
To reward the children’s hard work throughout the year we run an annual four-day mountain trek where, supported by volunteers, they can hike, camp, dance, sing, make new friends and have the time and space to dream new dreams. It’s been a privilege to watch how the children blossom and grow on such occasions. And the stories they bring back from their adventures encourage others from their respective communities to join our classes.