Sunil and Prem
The government school in a low-income Bengaluru neighborhood has a large playground where children in the community gather to play football (soccer) and cricket.
Two brothers, Sunil and Prem, love football and run to the pitch right after depositing their school bags at home. Most days, they play with their friends until dinnertime. The boys live in a house across the field and have two sisters. Their dad is a security guard and their mom is a household cook; the family’s combined monthly income is ~$110.
When he started school, Sunil’s teacher, a Teach for India Fellow, realized he needed a way to channel his boundless energy and introduced him to football. His natural athleticism made him a star, but initially he didn’t play cooperatively. His family didn’t have a TV, so his teacher showed him videos of famous football matches. Soon he realized even superstars need to be team players. He started passing the ball more and became the captain of the team that won the regional football tournament.
When Sunil was in 6th grade, his teacher took their team to Mumbai for Nationals. During the match, he fell and hurt his hand. He continued to play, even though his finger was swollen and painful. The tournament doctor said he needed to go to an emergency room. Sunil’s teacher took him to the hospital where X-rays showed he had a fracture.
Coincidentally, his brother Prem had a similar accident. At the end of his 5th grade school day, Prem was picking up his backpack from under his heavy wooden desk. It fell on his left index, middle and ring fingers. Prem passed out from the shock. His teachers rushed him by rickshaw to the nearest hospital. In both cases, the boys’ parents did not have the finances to deal with these accidents.
Teach for India Fellows used the Soondra Foundation micro-grants, $25 for Sunil and $16 for Prem, to finance the treatment the students needed. For the price of a t-shirt or a trip to the movies, these young children were able to get medical attention for their fractures to prevent infections, complications or permanent disabilities.
The grantees’ names have been altered to protect their privacy.