'Sucanto had scars and burns all over his small fingers and hands. Underneath the skin there were permanent blue dye marks. I'd always thought he had been injured in a textile factory.'
Brian Cusack volunteered as a Suas teaching assistant with Development Action Society (DAS) in Kolkata, 2014. One of the boys he worked with, he will never forget - his name is Sucanto.
Before Sucanto had a chance to come to school he was a rag picker. His parents would send him out every day to beg or to collect recyclables from rubbish heaps. One day, when he was just four years old, he was rummaging through rubbish searching for scraps. He grabbed something heavy... It was an industrial explosive.
It went off and ripped the skin from his little hands.
I knew so many children in the Sundarbans, a rural region outside of Kolkata, who had terrible scars and injuries because of child labour. It was a harsh reminder of what their past was. But the thing is, these scars could be seen as markers of their history. Something that they had left behind - now that they had the chance to come to school each day.
And if they could stay in school, fresh scars wouldn't replace them.
Sucanto didn't miss a single day for the three months I was there. He really loves school.
On one of the days, near the end of my time in India, I spotted Sucanto at a roundabout, a begging pan in his hand. If I hadn't been his teaching assistant, he would just have been another one of the many child beggars. Lost in the crowd.
As we approached, he reached out to our car, pan at the ready. But then he recognised us...and he transformed before our eyes. Smiling his big grin, he dropped his pan. Suddenly he was Sucanto again. He wasn't just one of thousands of child beggars scrambling on the streets of Kolkata. He was the boy I knew from class 2, who loves to play cricket with guava fruit.
'That moment really highlighted to me the impact of school for children like Sucanto. School really does make a difference. It allows them to escape the harsh realities that lie outside the school walls. School gives them a chance to be themselves. A chance to be children'
YOU ARE SUAS AND WE CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOU.
DAS relies on Suas funding to give children like Sucanto an education. Without the generosity of people like Brian - and Suas supporters like you - Sucanto and so many children like him wouldn't have that chance.
Your donations give children like Sucanto hope. A chance to be a child. A chance at a better future.
A CHANCE FOR NO MORE SCARS.
You can give Sucanto and his friends that chance right now. Please click below to donate to our Crowdfund for partner schools because you can change an Indian child's life. You'll be surprised at how much you can make possible with a small donation.
Thank you. Without this support Sucanto, and many other children like him, might not be able to go to school in 2016.