On the outskirts of Bodhgaya in Bihar, Northern India.
In collaboration with Bodhi Tree Educational School, I filmed and documented the stories of children with special needs from the Manjhi villages, which reveal Manjhi community's predicament governed by the 'caste' system.
The Manjhi are an indigenous group of India, a large population live in the small villages throughout Bihar. Traditionally they were considered ‘untouchables’, the lowest social class in India. Sitting at the bottom of the caste system, the Manjhi suffer widespread from poor education, lack of job opportunities and discrimination. The case is even more severe for children with disabilities as they have extremely limited access to medical and learning support. Most special needs kids suffer from maltreatment and neglect by their families and society.
Bodhi Tree School offers free tuition, supplies and transportation to encourage parents to send their children, of all abilities, to school. This joint effort of both local Indian professionals and global volunteers is changing the status quo.
Battling the limitations of resources and deep-rooted prejudice, it was not an easy beginning. Nevertheless, with persistent efforts, education has brought prominent changes to the villages in just a few years. An almost equal number of girls and boys are now joining school which was not, and still is not, the case in most public schools.
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