Education and Learning

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
It was the plight of impoverished children in London and their exclusion from regular education that motivated several people in the early 19th century to address their needs. Their unkempt appearance and behaviour challenged teachers. Even Sunday Schools became out of bounds for them. 'Ragged Schools' were set up.  Almost anywhere would do. Some were held in disused stables, others under railways arches. The aim was to give the children a better start in life, preventing crime and vagrancy.
By 1840, and not long before a parallel organisation, The Mission to Lepers, was born in the heart of Wellesley Bailey, a network of such schools had been established. Among their supporters were the social reformer Anthony Astley Cooper (Lord Shaftesbury) and the author, Charles Dickens. He set his book Oliver Twist in one of these schools. By the time Dr Barnardo got involved, the Ragged Schools had become the Shaftesbury Society.
I knew virtually nothing about them until discovering that a Salvation Army property in Periamet, Madras, had started off as a Ragged School. There was a central chapel and a few out-buildings to house the two dozen, mostly orphaned, boys now accommodated there. We gave them somewhere to stay; it was rightly called the Madras Boys' Home. No longer ragged, they went off to the local school in uniforms pristinely ironed with an old-fashioned iron carrying a few glowing coals. Reading, writing and arithmetic took place on weekdays. And they did attend Sunday School! 
There were the inevitable challenges of boys living together, but they did well. The highlight of our year was a cricket match with them in the compound on Christmas Day - India vs South Africa! Admittedly it was only played with a tennis ball.
This investment in people was worthwhile. Education does make a difference. A number of them have done well - an office clerk, manager of a guest house, owner of a bottled water firm. And one has even started a similar organisation for other boys, similarly placed.  I guess TLM could produce similar stories. 
Organisations evolve with time; names even change. The Mission to Lepers is now The Leprosy Mission; the Ragged Schools Union and the Shaftesbury Society have become Livability. Both have an increasing commitment to disabled persons.