In 1993, the Jesuit Fr. Peter Daniel began the child labour shool for Dalit children who were not attending school but working, grazing buffalos. Darsi Mission is situated in a very under developed area, in the Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh. Now more that 500 Dalit children have schooling.
The tribes and Dalit people living in these villages suffer from many socioeconomic problems:
-They are socially opressed, the poorest of the poor.
-Labourers are not conscious of the value of education and children end up working in the same occupation as their parents did
-Children from the tribal and Dalit communities become child labourers. Economic pressures force famlilies to involve children in farm work from a young age
-People have to struggle for basic needs ( food, shelter and education)
-When boys reach 13 years old they accompany their fathers or close relatives in labour. Girls leave education in order to look after younger children.
-Farming gives work for 150 days per year, depending on the monsoons.
Due to the above factors, people cannot save money and are always in debt.
Since being established, Darsi school has aimed to give a primary education to the poorest children; to help them by providing residential facilities; to admit disabled children and HIV affected children; to give extra coaching to children whose parents are illiterate; and to provide free boarding and residential facilities by mobilising resources.
There are 446 Dalit children, both boys and girls, in the separate homes. They go to the St Xavier’s High School within the campus and return to their homes.Since the school is private, the government does not pay teachers’ salaries. The Friendly hand gives financial assistance to sponsor some of these boys and girls, paying their health care and food.