Amidst the poverty of Calcutta streets, one woman creates a miraculous melting pot of potential where rich, poor, destitute, Hindu, Muslim and Christian children unite actively rewire their society, and create a future of their own choosing….
Sit Beside Me is the story of a young Irish girl who longed to comfort the untouchables of her own classroom during World War 2. At 13 Cyril Mooney resolved to dedicate her life to helping those living on the margins of society. At 20 she went to India for life, to sit beside those most in need.
There she opened the gates of her school to children of all castes, religions and social backgrounds, igniting a surprisingly simple yet radically effective revolution in education.
Meet Maya who at five years old managed to care for her 3 year-old sister for 6 months in the train station alone.
Meet Kali, a young girl from the street who now has the power not only to fight for her abused mother, but for the education and rights of women and girls in general.
Meet Saloni, Anamika, Agnes and others who are among thousands of other children who are reaching out to help and sit beside one another.
Filmed over seven years in Calcutta, Sit Beside Me is a journey into the surprising lives of Sister Cyril’s children and how they are remaking their society one child at a time, from the inside out.
You are invited.
Maja in 2003, 2007 and 2010. She and her sister Chaia were abandoned by their mother in the train station. Through Sister Cyril’s Loreto Day School they now have a home, an education, and a chance to shape their own future.
“The first thing you have to do is to remove competition.
Once you do that you have almost won the battle.”
She opened the rooftop of her school to save homeless girl children from the risks of living on the street.
She put service at the heart of the curriculum, and enabled children to teach other children,peer-to-peer.
She allowed all at her school to lead compassion-first. Together they created life-changing programs for the elderly, brickfield children, hidden child domestic laborers, education of school-less children and more.
SM Cyril Mooney’s inclusive education approach not only saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but empowered these girls to set out on an entirely different trajectory, changing not only their lives, but those who come after.