20 years ago when Tony Barron started what was then called Child Aid Ireland . His objective was to convince and help families to keep their children in education. In those days a child could leave education at 9 or 10 years of age. Nowadays the parents realise that their children as far as possible must go on to 3rd level. Through our mothers self-help groups with 2000 + mothers we must take some credit for that realisation on the importance of education.
Three years ago we realised that many of our families could not afford the upfront fees to send their children for third level education. We introduced a micro-finance programme where they get a loan for the fees and repay a small amount each month, while the child is in education and then the graduate will complete the payment once he or she has finished.
This has been very successful. This year, 70 children have graduated. In India, families stick together and the graduates will send money back to their impoverished parents. Of course in rural India where arranged marriages are the norm, the wife will often move in with the husband’s family to look after his parents as they age.
In September we met the students photographed above. We explained to them the importance of paying back and many of them agreed once the got a job they would sponsor a child. In fact, a number of them signed a standing order to start the process. Already the money committed by standing order will send three further 18-year-olds to college in 2015