Our dancing bear rescue project changes children's lives too!
The dancing bear rescue project which, with continuing support from International Animal Rescue, cares for hundreds of bears in India, provides a solution which benefits people as well as animals. Here Suvidha Bhatnagar from IAR’s partners Wildlife SOS describes how one young girl from the Kalandar community who formerly danced the bears has had her life transformed.
As part of the Kalandar Education Programme running since 2006, we have left no stone unturned in convincing members of the Kalandar community to send their children, particularly girls to school. One such child, Nargis, the eight year old daughter of a Kalandar and also a polio victim, today stands as testimony to Wildlife SOS’s efforts.
Nargis lives with her father, mother and two younger brothers in Bhopal and was diagnosed with polio very early in her life. This was the reason the lower half of her body almost stopped functioning. Her father, Zameer, is an auto driver and earns a minimal living. Her mother, Tasleem, is a housewife and takes care of Nargis who needs constant support for her daily activities. Nargis is extremely intelligent with a strong determination to study. Zameer, knowing his child’s potential and desire to go to school, worked hard to save money, but his meagre salary couldn’t afford Nargis’s private school fees.ur
Before admitting Nargis to a private school, Zameer tried to teach her in a government school, only to find them ill-equipped to take proper care of Nargis. In 2010, he approached Wildlife SOS for help. The organisation’s team in Bhopal took immediate action and she was admitted to a private school in the nursery section. The Kalandar Education Scheme has been supporting Nargis and her younger brother with uniform, stationery and school fees for the last four years. Nargis is now in Class 2 and is bright, happy and motivated. She wants to be successful in life, she says. Tasleem, too, is proud of her and states: “My daughter is always excited to go to school and reads her books all the time!”
Nargis has set an example for the world with her positive attitude. Her story has inspired many other parents to follow their heart and never stop dreaming for their children. It is uplifting too to see how a project designed primarily to save bears from suffering is also transforming the lives of the Kalandar community and building a better future for their children.