In Calcutta, amidst the greatest urban poverty in the world, where a
staggering number of people are born, marry, live and die on the
street, a great number are children are abandoned and lelt on their
own to lorage for food amid the trash along the tracks of the Seaidah
train station. Jumping trains to escape those that would misuse them,
girl children are especially at risk. There are so many. but their
numbers are dwindling. They have been invited.
Saloni, an energetic and luminous young girl abused as a child
domestic laborer recounts her harrowing rescue by a student of the
Loreto Sealdah school.
Maya, who at the age of 5 walked into Loreto Sealdah school carrying
her 2 year old sister in her arms after living alone and foraging for
food for 6 months in the train station shares with us her new found
life and friends.
Agnes, a young girl whose family moves from living under a staircase
to a tiny rooftop, invites into her home, her school and her dreams of
Kali, a street child who after living for years on a highway with her family
is now empowered not only to fight for her abused mother but for the
education and rights of women and girls in general.
Anamika, who along with other Loreto students, seeks out children
abused as domestic slaves, enters the houses where they work,
andadvocates for their rights.
And Sister Cyril Mooney, the undaunted rivetingly inspiring woman whose
vision and determination are carving out space for these children to
not only survive and thrive, but to pursue a life of their own making.
Cyril Mooney toppled the ivory tower her first day as principle of
Loreto Sealdah inviting in 50% students extremely poor children from
the slums. She sent these children out to the villages to sit beside
and teach their peers who were living in poverty and without access to
equitable education. The new students, half rich and half very poor,
then became concerned about the street children living outside the
school walls. They can’t go to school, they have nothing to eat, no
place to sleep. She asked her students what they wanted to do. We
will teach them. They will sleep on the roof. We will invite them.
These rescued street children in turn began a program feeding
abandoned widows living alone on the street, developed human rights
education curriculum for children, and have rescued hundreds of hidden
child domestic laborers by inviting them. Come to school, sit beside me.
We are taking a great trip with Sister Cyril Mooney, the Irish girl
who dedicated her life to helping other children, and the thousands of
children in Calcutta she has inspired to do the same. Cyril is a
visionary and overreaching character whose narration holds the thread
of the film, accompanied by five girls who share their extraordinary
stories with us by inviting us in to their ‘ordinary’ daily lives.
Sit Beside lie is a portrait of Sister Cyril Mooney, her philosophy, vision
and works. It is therefore the story at the children she has empowered
and how they themselves are re-making their society one child at a
time, from the inside out.It is working, and it is possible anywhere.
You are invited.