TIG’s largest extended family (27 in all) belong to Varanasi’s Mallah caste. Twenty-two
of them live together in a compound of small dark rooms surrounding an open courtyard filled with goats, chickens, and family cooking fires. Three brothers and their wives, a single brother, the mother of the brothers, and a combined fourteen children (ten of them girls) ranging in age from six months to sixteen live there. A sister lives with her husband and their three children on a nearby ghat.
All the children but the newborn attend a nearby private school. The younger children receive tutoring and the older specialized coaching in the subjects they’re weakest in.
TIG pays for school, tutoring, and coaching as well as transportation, uniforms and school supplies. Education has changed the children’s expectations of themselves and we’re beginning to see the payoff in the older children. The girls are not being married off while still young teenagers. They’ve been exposed to other possibilities including careers and college. The boys are considering jobs outside the low-paid Mallah caste work.