“Education is beautification of the inner world and the outer world.”-Amit Ray
Making a difference
Life is what you make it. But not all get a chance to live a life of their dreams. Like a sapling grows into a tree with a lot of care and attention, similarly, a child is nurtured into a person with values after getting the desired attention and direction. With this little thought in mind, I and Aishwarya reached out to the people in Reghurpura area of Karol Bagh. The roadside slums where people were living in uninhabitable conditions, barely able to make both ends meet, made us feel a sense of urgency to reach out to them and help them with our small initiative.
Surveying the streets
The next day, I, Aishwarya and Ish decided to visit the area in order to get a better picture of the situation and whether the people would help us realize the goal of “Reach and Teach”. To our disappointment, the first family we approached did not respond as expected. Not losing hope, we moved ahead and came across so many people who did not have enough resources to educate their children. To our surprise, it turned out that the people who never had the opportunity to get the proper education themselves were knowledgeable enough to value the importance of their children’s education.
While we explored the area, we fortunately came across Seema who sells mobile accessories on the footpath putting up a small thela. She has already taken a wonderful step by getting 100 children enrolled in schools’ single-handed. She ensured that she would do her bit for the cause. This made it easier for us to reach out to the children who are burdened by the weight of the society and are unable to live their dreams. Hence “a new beginning was made with the creation of a new story in time”.
The journey had just begun. The first step was to assess the situation and to realize this goal, I along with Akanksha (Zonal director, UPAY Delhi-NCR), Ish, and Shruti conducted the survey. The survey was conducted satisfactorily and we got the comprehensive list of families who wanted their children to get better education. We had a diverse group of children. Some of them were going to school, few were dropouts and few had never started. The common binding thing among all of them was the enthusiasm and the zeal to learn and move ahead in life.
Meeting the challenges
The next big challenge was to locate an appropriate place where the classes could be held. Our team not leaving any stone unturned, surveyed the entire area and finally, we reached a park which seemed suitable to conduct the classes. It was in nature’s lap with lush greenery and also seemed suitable in all aspects. We considered it as one of the most appropriate location to move ahead with our course of action.
But the next day when we visited the park again, we were a little perplexed and had to confront the problem of the park being used by some anti-social elements who were lying drunk in the park. It was very disturbing for all of us to see people in such condition. Not having many options in hand, we thought of making the park better place by removing those elements and making the environment congenial for both the students and the volunteers. I and Ish decided to approach the nearby police station and get help from them for this purpose. When we reached the police station, we were not having much in our mind about what would be their response. As it turned out, the police officials were very supportive and promised to help us in all the possible ways. They took the responsibility for the safety of the students and the volunteers. We told them about the various operational centers in Gurugram and how beautifully various activities were being carried out there. They were very impressed and promised to offer all possible help.
Reach and Teach- The Beginning
Finally, it was the Day. 16th September. The first day of the center. On the first day itself, we had 35 children and a volunteer team comprising of Abhishek Yadav(DU), Abhishek Yadav(ORN), Ankit Anand, Nimita Negi, Sharad Kumar, Shruti Garg and Seema. Appreciable efforts were made by all the volunteers. Seema is an integral part of the Karol Bagh team. Her assistance is very valuable as she understands the children better and helps us in doing the same. The day was made special by the visit of Varun Srivastava, founder UPAY and Akanksha Swarnim, Zonal Director. They inspired us to move ahead with full dedication and also addressed the students.
The innocent smile on the faces of the little children, who were learning and playing, was heart-warming for all of us. In the end, it was all worth the cause. We all had decided to inspire the children to come for classes regularly. Instead, we were inspired by the keenness of the students to learn. We knew that the roots of the UPAY tree had firmly grabbed the soil.
Identifying the problems
The first few days we dedicated to understanding the problems of the children. Some had the habit of chewing tobacco, some used cuss words and some had the habit of lying. We all were aware that directly targeting them would be of no use and they would again revert back to being the same. Moving with the activities of the day, Ankit decided to morally educate the children about the importance of speaking the truth and how it makes one a better person by giving them the example of Mahatma Gandhi. I myself talked to the children who were caught chewing tobacco and they promised me that they will not repeat it again. This was met with some success as 3 of them turned to me themselves and told me that they had stopped chewing tobacco. It was a great achievement as the first thing we aspire to do is to make them a better person in life.
Hurdles were meant to be leapt
As it is rightly said- “what comes easy won’t last, what lasts won’t come easy”. Near to the completion of one month of the centre, we faced another obstacle. The parents of most of the children were reluctant to send them to the park as they felt that the environment was not conducive. The strength of the class began to decline. This problem had to be tackled on a priority basis. I along with Seema decided to visit the schools in the nearby area. We visited all the municipal corporation schools but all went in vain. We visited some private schools also, but that too did not yield results. When we had lost all hopes, Seema informed about a Buddhist temple in their locality where the hall was spacious and environment was very congenial to conduct classes. We went to see the temple and enquire about its availability. When we reached the hall, we met the MLA of Karol Bagh who was addressing a meeting there. We personally approached him and told him everything about our cause. He gave a positive response and asked to approach Mr. Hari Krishan, the Pradhan of the temple. The same day we reached out to Mr. Hari Krishan and explained him the purpose behind everything we aspire to do and how a small contribution from his side would shape the future of so many children. He gave a positive response and asked to submit an application to get clearance for using the temple hall. I did the needful and a week later on 9 October, we were successfully able to conduct our first class at the new location.
Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try
“All is well that ends well.” The entire Karol Bagh team comprising of 20 volunteers at present is working very hard and their efforts are really appreciable. The journey has begun. Hoping for it to last forever. A small contribution from our side can change the life of so many innocent children.
Confucious has rightly said- “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. And if your plan is for one hundred years, educate children”. The small steps we have taken here can have an everlasting impact on the lives of children. We have Reached and have begun to Teach.
A big Thanks and Congratulations to the Team.
By – Mithila Malhotra