The pains of hunger gnawed at 14-year-old Jalpa. She could barely focus on the day’s lessons. Another stomach growl, another stab of pain. The lesson became muddled with that of yesterday, swirling into a confusing mess. It almost seemed not worth attending school like this. Jalpa’s stomach growled again, drowning out her thoughts.
Lacking Food, Hope
Jalpa and her family lived in a rural village and depended on their crops for survival. A harsh and almost unpredictable climate ruined many harvests. The family of four came close to starvation many times over the years after crops died from the harsh sun or the driving wind and rain of monsoon. No crop meant no money; no money meant no food.
Jalpa’s schooling suffered as hunger’s harsh side-effects kept the young girl home. Her body became racked by hunger and pockmarked with skin infections from insufficient nutrition, which mean Jalpa fell further and further behind in her studies. Her parents, Advaya and Shrawani, feared the cycle they saw taking place in their daughter’s life but felt helpless to end it.
A Future for Jalpa
Fortunately, a worker from a nearby GFA World Bridge of Hope center happened to meet Advaya and Shrawani. As the worker shared with Jalpa’s parents the benefits of Bridge of Hope, they anxiously questioned the cost.
No, the worker said, everything Jalpa would need, including warm meals, books, school supplies and uniforms, would be provided at no cost to the family.
The parents, especially Advaya, were stunned. What type of program didn’t require attendance fees? Advaya couldn’t think of a school that didn’t ask for money to enroll their children. What made this Bridge of Hope program different?
Bringing Hope to an Entire Family
Advaya and Shrawani enrolled Jalpa in Bridge of Hope, and any lingering doubts Advaya had about the program were immediately quashed when he heard how well other children from the village were faring, in both studies and life. When Jalpa returned each day regaling her parents with the new things she learned and showing the new supplies and uniforms she had received, Advaya’s happiness burned away the worry for his daughter’s future. The decision to send Jalpa to the center had been a good one.
For Jalpa, every day at the Bridge of Hope center brought new, exciting experiences. Every day, her stomach was filled with a warm meal, a welcome occurrence that contrasted her past hunger. Jalpa’s studies drastically improved as she caught up with lessons that she once had trouble focusing on. Her confidence soared; no longer would she lag behind her peers.
School was worth it, after all.
“Because of the Bridge of Hope, I was able to … get a better education,” Jalpa said. “I am happy now.”