Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Passing on the Baton of Education!

At Door Step School, we try our best to get every child enrolled in a formal school. For this, we have to convince the parents to send their children to school. We also have to ensure that the school has a welcoming atmosphere for these children. While doing so, we had a surprisingly pleasant experience at one of the corporation schools in Pune.

Last month, we enrolled two kids from Marvel Sangria construction site to a nearby corporation school. Both of them were eight years old, hence they were enrolled in the second standard as per the rule of age-appropriate admissions. The two children, after attending school for first day, returned to the Educational Activity Center (EAC) run by Door Step School at the construction site. The teacher at EAC asked them how their first day at school went. Both the children informed that they had a great day at school! This was not a usual reaction, hence the teacher enquired in detail. The children told that there was a girl called Pratiksha in their class, who welcomed them at school and stayed with them throughout the day. She offered her own notebook and pen to one of the newly enrolled children. She also helped them get their mid-day meal at school and explained the rules of the school to them.

The teacher at EAC then found out that this girl Pratiksha Ganpat Devkate, age 8 years, has been attending one of the Door Step School EACs since Balwadi. Her father is a construction worker, while her mother works as a housemaid. In 2014, Pratiksha was enrolled in the same school at the age of six. She has been attending school for two years now. The way she helped two newly enrolled children proves how useful and important it is to enroll children in school at right age.

We are sure that Pratiksha would not be an exceptional case. There must be many like her who are not only benefiting from the opportunity to attend school themselves, but are also helping others jump on the bandwagon!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Setting An Example of Volunteering

This is the story of a dedicated and concerned volunteer working with Door Step School children in Pune. Sharmishtha Deshpande from Wipro started volunteering from June 2015 at construction sites and brick kilns in Kondhwa area. She was teaching a group of around 15 children between 6 and 13 years of age. Many of the children attended nearby government school till 3:30 in the afternoon and joined Sharmishtha Tai's class from 3:45 till 5:30 in the evening.

Sharmishtha wanted to teach these children English. She used simple methods like teaching them how to spell their own names and addresses. She introduced them to colours and numbers in English. Then she proceeded to teach them other English words and made the learning process interesting by adding drawing and painting activities.

A specific room was not available at the location for Sharmishtha to conduct her class. There was a vacant room in the labour vasti, which was initially used as a classroom. But the class was scheduled to happen only once in a week, on Saturday. This room would usually get occupied during the week by some new labourers joining the construction work here. But Sharmishtha was very determined and she would conduct her class anywhere she found a place to sit with the children. There were times when she conducted her class even in the shadow of nearby houses. She never complained about uncleanliness of the surroundings or state of the children. She also arranged all the required teaching aids on her own. Although some mats and slates were provided at the site, those were frequently stolen and misplaced due to lack of storage space.

Sharmishtha gave beautiful pictures to the children and got them painted. Once the painting was done, she collected all the pictures and got them laminated. She was always against rejecting any of the pictures for not being painted well. She didn't want any of the children feel bad for their picture not being selected for lamination. So involved she was with the children that she could not think of seeing them sad.

While conducting the class, Sharmishtha noticed uncleanliness of the surroundings and decided to run a cleanliness drive. Next Saturday, she herself brought 10 volunteers with her at 8:30 in the morning and got the entire area cleaned. Looking at the enthusiasm and initiative of volunteers, even the builder of the construction site sent two labourers to help volunteers clean the area. The volunteers then planted trees in the premises. Children at the site were involved in all these activities and now they have taken ownership of the trees and are seen taking good care of them.

One day, Sharmishtha proposed to take these children on a tour to Lohegaon Airport. Neither the children nor their parents had ever visited any airport. All of them were too excited about the trip. A total of 42 children from various construction sites in Kondhwa, Undri, and Pisoli were taken to Lohegaon Airport. The volunteers guided the children through various sections of the airport and answered their never-ending questions. It was truly a lifetime experience for the children.

The children are very much fond of their Sharmishtha Tai, who not only helped them in their studies but also gave them life lessons of cleanliness and nature conservation. On behalf of all these children, Door Step School would like to thank Sharmishtha and her group of volunteers for bringing hope in the lives of these marginalised children.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Door Step School Children with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Door Step School children had an opportunity to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to Mumbai. Door Step School children along with Rajanitai and other DSS staff were present at the Oval Maidan, Mumbai. The Royal Couple played a game of cricket with Door Step School children along with cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and Dilip Vengsarkar. The couple spent some time talking with the children and also learning few Hindi alphabets. Door Step School children presented beautiful handmade gifts to the Duke and the Duchess. Here are some photographs of the event -
All set up at the tent at Oval Maidan to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Door Step School children and staff all set to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

William and Kate meet the youngsters from Door Step School.

Duke of Cambridge playing with Door Step School kids.

Duke & Duchess learning Hindi with Door Step School children.

Handmade gifts for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge from Door Step School children.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to meet Door Step School children

Excerpts from an article published by The Telegraph on 9th of April 2016 -

How the other half live: why India's slum-dwellers are keen to meet William and Kate
- Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, Mumbai

Her home is an 8ft x 8ft room that she shares with her parents and six siblings, so the question slum dweller Saniya Puniya Chauhan wants to ask the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is perhaps glaringly obvious.

“How can they live in such a big house?” mused 10-year-old Saniya as she prepared for one of the most exciting days of her life when she meets the royal couple in Mumbai.

“How do they communicate?” she went on. “How do they call each other? What kind of clothes do they wear?”

The Duke and Duchess can expect to be bombarded with these and similarly frank questions from some of the world’s poorest children when they arrive in India on Sunday at the start of their seven-day day tour of the country and of Bhutan.

Anmer Hall, the Duke and Duchess’s home in Norfolk, could comfortably be divided into more than 100 typical dwellings in the Baba Sheb Ambedkar Nagar slum, where  Saniya lives, meaning the Grade II* listed property would be home to upwards of 500 people, rather than four. They also have a London home at Kensington Palace.

A crude comparison, perhaps, but one which has clearly crossed the minds of Saniya and other pupils at the slum’s Door Step school. Many of them start work at the age of seven gutting fish or scavenging rubbish dumps for £3 a day and drop in to the school in the evenings to learn how to read and write.

The school’s co-founder, Bina Sheth Lashkari, said: “We have shown the children pictures of the Duke and Duchess and where they live. The children know they are going to meet a Prince and Princess and they have asked if they are like the Princes and Princesses in fairy tales. One of the girls asked if the Princess had big hair, like Rapunzel.

“They asked ‘do they need such a big house?’ and ‘how do they call their wife, how do they call their kids?’. They want to know what they eat, what they wear, everything. They are really excited and a bit scared as well - their eyes are so wide!”

 (Link to original article -