GoBarefoot Blog

GoBarefoot Blog

Connecting The Development Sector

Catalysing change through education

10-year-old jovial and ambitious Thanuja was made to drop out of school by her parents. But this young girl fought to achieve what was rightfully hers.

Remember that smile on your face when you read about a little girl who wasn’t allowed to go to school, but she borrowed books from friends, studied, and is now employed and supporting her family.

There are thousands, if not more, girls who don’t reach the ‘fancy corporate firm’. But, fortunately there are many who do!

Thanuja is an example of those whose dreams could have been left unfulfilled.




Half of her family’s earnings was spent to pay for her mother’s medical bills. Unable to send both their children to school, dropped out after second grade while her brother continued. Thanuja, like most girls in her situation, was asked to help with household chores and may have been soon been employed as a child labourer to earn extra money.

While Thanuja didn’t give up and borrowed books from her friends to continue studying on her own, it wasn’t sure how long this method would work.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
― Malala Yousafzai

But today, Thanuja is being educated thanks to Smile Foundation’s Mission Education, which provides basic education and healthcare to underprivileged children.

Education is both the means as well as the end to a better life; means, because it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one’s awareness on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate social behaviour to understanding one’s rights, and in the process evolve as a better citizen.

Smile Foundation’s educational initiatives include Pre-school [3-6 years], Non Formal Education [6-14 years non-school going], Remedial Education [6-14 years school-going] and Bridge Course [14-18 years drop-outs]. It works for education for needy children who are under difficult circumstances, such as child labour, children of poorest of the parents, children inflicted and affected with HIV/AIDS, street and runaway children, children with rare disabilities, disaster struck children, and slum children. Special emphasis is given on girl child education and women education, so that they and their families get empowered.

Since its inception in 2002, more than 200,000 children have directly benefitted from Mission Education. At present, this initiative reaches out to 19,000 children directly through 90 projects in 21 states across India.

Thanuja is in grade five now. She regularly attends her classes at the centre and even helps her mother in the household chores.


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