Avasar Shala(Opportunity Center)

Avasar Shala is an non-formal learning center for street kids living at Sealdah Train Station in Kolkata, India. Avasar Shala, as the name itself suggests, is a center which will provide opportunities to kids who are often mistreated and ignored by society.

Sealdah Train Station in Kolkata, India is one of the largest train stations in the country. Sealdah serves millions of people each week, and is home to thousands of street kids and their families.

Our students are street kids from Sealdah. They live on open platforms at the station, sleeping on the ground fully exposed with maybe a cardboard box and shawls for blankets.

Most of them are separated from their families and are required to beg or work by selling used water bottles for a few rupees apiece to support what families they do have. For those that do have parents, their parents' focus is not to better their children’s lives or provide them with a better life, their primary focus is to make money and ensure the family survives the day.

They don’t have proper access to showers or bathrooms, bathing as infrequently as a few times a month. When they do bathe it is in a public area and they are unable to fully undress, leaving their underwear on. Many are infested with lice and wear the same clothes for months at a time and a few do not own shoes. They do not have access to nutritious food or proper medical care. A majority of the food they eat is leftovers from the trains and consists of white rice and dal. Some don’t even have access to that and eat daily meals of only bread and water.

None of them have received any formal education and cannot read, write or do basic math.

It’s not only that these kids have so little and are stigmatized, alienated, and shunned by society they are not even acknowledged as human beings. Even with all of this they are just like any other child. They want friendly attention, to hug, to laugh with you, to smile, to make you smile and to learn.

We are providing basic educational skills in a non-formal setting, exposing our students to multimodal learning and helping them build their skills towards independence.  

Read more about our students and the school at www.AvasarShala.org 

Contributions are also always welcome in the form of:

Laptops (new or used)
Tablets (new or used)
USB Sticks (4GB or more)
Books (handwriting, letter formation, alphabet, early/basic math workbooks, etc.)

Some typical expenses over 1 month:

$100 for classroom rent
$80 for meals/snacks
$20 for internet
$250 for a single staff salary
$100 per volunteer for monthly accommodation


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Ritesh Arora 
Santa Clara, CA
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