The tree-lined lane of the aesthetically-designed spacious campus leads us to the main school building. All over, the walls are adorned with colourful artwork and paintings done by the students. With well-ventilated classrooms, computer labs, library, dining hall and facilities for music, art and sports, this school ensures education and amenities for the students. On one side, there is a large playground where children clad in bright yellow uniforms are playing during their lunch break. Their smiling faces conceal their modest circumstances back home.
This is Christel House, an organisation founded by Christel DeHaan in 2001. It is located in the suburbs of Bengaluru near Yelahanka. Its mission is to break the vicious cycle of poverty through education.
Impossible made possible
“We have a holistic model for the betterment of our students which in turn reflects on their families and society. Our model can be replicated,” affirms Jaison C Mathew, chief executive officer, Christel House India.
Every year, after a thorough survey, about 70 five-year-old children from underprivileged communities within 20 km radius of the school are selected and admitted to the kindergarten section of the school. And then, these students become the responsibility of Christel House until they are transformed into self–sufficient citizens.
First and foremost, they are immunised as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and acquainted with the basic hygiene habits. Quite often, they come from dysfunctional families and need to be offered psychological support. Furthermore, outreach programmes for the parents such as education on HIV and AIDS, financial literacy, de-addiction, etc. are conducted to the betterment of the larger community.
The organisation provides free education, transport, meals, books, stationery, uniform and medical care to all its students. The chefs working in the well-equipped kitchen efficiently prepare nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks for about 1,000 members every day. Regular health check-ups are conducted in the school and their tie-up with M S Ramaiah Hospital enables the children, to get free medical care.
“Our children are first-generation learners, so they have to be consistently motivated and reminded of the merits of education. All learning has to happen in the school itself and the teachers play a vital role. But having said that, we cannot compromise on any aspect,” states Jaya George, director of education of the institute.
Emphasis is on excellence in education with high expectations from students and teachers where they have to master their core subjects and technology that will assist them in their work. Also, there are special educators who take care of children with learning disabilities.
Being an English medium school, the focus is on fluency of the language. It uses a programme called ‘Wordsworth’ to procure practical insight into spoken English, phonics and grammar and teach the same to the students. It also makes use of the ‘Mindspark’ app for improving the Math skills of its students. Art, sports and culture are also given equal importance. Likewise, the founding principles of character education — respect, responsibility, independence and integrity — are inculcated into the young minds.
This school is affiliated to the Karnataka State Board and offers education up to class XII. From there on, most of the students are guided to graduate studies with scholarships to support their university education. Some of them get enrolled in vocational training courses. The students are assisted through college and career programmes until they comply with the profession of their choice and aptitude.
“Many of our graduates are working in multinational companies today. Students are pursuing courses in commerce, engineering, medicine, law and many other far-reaching spheres. They even express their desire to help our future students,” says Jaison Mathew.
“I always wanted to be a doctor. It was my dream. I was told it would be difficult but I took it as a challenge. Today, I’ve achieved the dream and I owe my MBBS to this organisation. It’s a place where one receives support, care and encouragement,’’ says Dr Shaikh Reshma, who completed her MBBS in Belagavi.
Christel House model has a holistic approach towards empowering the lives of destitute children. With many success stories so far and many more in the making, this is a good way of giving back to the society.
For more information, log on to https://christelhouse.org.