Last year, at the parent-teacher conference, Preeti’s mother, Neha, asked for an ink pad when she was asked to sign Preeti’s report card. Ink pads are used by individuals who do not know how to read or write. Their thumbprints serve as their signatures.
Neha, and her husband, Mohammed, a cleaner at a poultry farm, live with their 7 children in extreme poverty; no one in the family has ever attended school. Two years ago, Mohammed approached Divine Mercy Free School and sought admission for his daughter, Preeti.
Preeti did not have any of the documents necessary to be admitted into a school, not even a birth certificate. Yet, Headmaster Gerard, knowing many others like Preeti and her family, worked through these obstacles and allowed her to join.
Today, Preeti is the top in her 5th grade class.
Her mother, Neha, attended the parent-teacher meeting again this year. And, again, the teachers asked for Neha’s signature on her daughter’s report card. This time Neha did not reach for the ink pad; she reached for a pen. Preeti had taught her mother how to write her own name.
Whether the pride that shone on Neha’s face was from being able to write her own name or from seeing the excellent grades on Preeti’s report card was not clear. It does not matter. Because of the education of a single child, everything is changing for this family.