No matter how much we deny it now, a subconscious classist attitude is what most Indian kids learn to grow up with. Why else are we not “allowed” to play with the house help’s children, why else do we not go to the same schools as them, or eat in the same utensils as them?
This attitude and this classification make sure the so-called scheduled castes remain where they are. While most Indians still treat them as “untouchables” without sparing so much as a thought, a woman from Spain has given up her well-paying job and sold off her belongings to be able to see the Dalits of India rise, through education.
A report published by thebetterindia tells us the story of Raquel Mason Palomeque, the Spanish woman who made India her home about a decade ago with the vision of a better life for Dalit children, senior citizens and underprivileged women.
Raquel’s first brush with India was in 1998, which made her return in 2006, to Bodhgaya (Bihar) for a Buddhist retreat. Raquel’s first moment of awakening came when she met five-year-old Akshay from Amwan (a village near Bodhgaya). The boy was very sick. Raquel sought a doctor and bought medicines for the child, which cost just over one Euro
Akshay’s eyes were cured and he recovered. Raquel felt it was impossible to turn her back on such scenes and she would have to do something. She realised that the only way to improve the living conditions of these children was by education in the widest sense, thus offering them an opportunity to become adults with dignity,” says the organisations website, en.akshy.org.
Through her education initiatives–Akshy Educational Centre and Kamal School–220 Dalit children are receiving education today. By the way, half the seats in both the schools have been reserved for girls.
“I hope that the Dalit children can have the same opportunities in the future as other Indian children. If they get a good education they can get good jobs and their families and communites can prosper. But, it is also very important that this Dalit movement should happen without violence and with respect towards all. Education will give them the tools to stand up for their ideas and discuss their rights as Indian citizens,” Raquel told The Better India.