Thursday, July 20, 2017

Earned one more smile... Isn’t it beautiful one... (Volunteer Experience)

It all started when I was coming from office. Cab drop point is around one km away. As usual I was walking towards home with earphones plugged in… suddenly realized someone behind me.. was calling me… I turned off music… one skinny lady, with sac of recyclable material picked up from garbage on road, was following me. She came to me.

Maaay moh kaee kaam milate kate pahave maaay.. durun aalo amhi.. parabhani warun.. tya neo city chya labour camp madhye rahato.. tithach kaambi karite.. lek balantin zaliye.. pagar naeee dila malakane… chul petawayala roj hyo kachara gola karite.. 5-10 rupye milatat kacharyache.. moh kaee kaam milate ka bagha. (Please see if some work I can get. We came from parabhani. Living in neo city labor camp. Work there itself.. daughter came for delivery. Haven’t got salary yet. Need some money to make every day’s bread and butter, that’s y picking up this recyclable material from garbage. I get few rupees out of it. Please see if I can get some work.)”

She sounded very much honest. But she is just passed 8th standard. She felt reluctant to work in office. So I asked her to come home for house work.

Second day she came with her son, around 12 yrs old son. While she was finishing work , I started talking with her son. I asked him in which school he is studying and all. I got to know he doesn’t go to school. His mother told me they are finding it difficult to get admission here as they don’t have school transfer certificate. So her two sons are not being able to get admission here and indeed their schooling is abandoned.

I called Rajani madam from Door Step school. Told her all the situation. She told me , she will inform her DSS representatives here and they will help me.

On Saturday I got call from DSS representative, they told they will meet me on Sunday.

I went to Neo City (construction site) labor camp on Sunday by 11 am to meet DSS representative. We found that there are few more students who are out of school. We talked with their parents, identified problems they are facing. DSS representative told me that they will help all parents to get admission in school. Kid’s parents looked so much grateful as they were doing Namaskar to all of us. We returned with promise from parents that they will send their kids to school.

The boy in photo is younger son of the lady who has started working at my house. Another kid in photo is her granddaughter (in other word cute photo of mama-bhachi).

I asked this boy to read book, he read few pages fluently. I asked him to tell tables. He spoke 1-30 tables. He told full ABCD. Sang few poems.

While listening to him few thoughts were running through my mind which resulted in tears in my eyes- "Look at this boy.. he is so much talented.. he was about to miss his schooling.. could have just abandoned somewhere because of many more factors not just poor family…"

Feeling amazed… few incidences which happened randomly in last few days are going to result in something valueable.. This talented boy is indeed will continue with his schooling.. just look at his smile in photo.. His smile has reflected on my face with tons of amazed happy expressions…

Thanks to Door Step School representatives. Without their help this was impossible…
School chale hum… ohoho…

- Hemshri Lakhapati, Volunteer

(This is a nice example of how every citizen, without disturbing their own schedule, can contribute towards education of out-of-school children. Thank you Ms. Hemshri, for sharing this wonderful experience! - Door Step School, Pune)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Story of Ganesh Sutar - A Bright and Promising Student

Ganesh Baburao Sutar, age 16 years, is studying in class 8th in Mahatma Phule School, Pisoli, Pune. He has two younger sisters, Pooja, 12 and Poonam 11. Their mother passed away when Poonam was just 6 months old and same time their father left the 3 children to life’s mercy and went away.

Ganesh’s maternal aunts and his uncle, who works as a construction labourer, stepped up and decided to take responsibility of the children. However, the siblings are separated, each staying with one relative so as to distribute the burden of expenses.

With a broken home and no one to look upto, Ganesh’s life would have been very different. But with the support from his maternal uncle and his own determination, Ganesh is doing very well as a student and a human being today.

Our team met Ganesh 4 years back through our “Parents’ Participation in Children’s Education” program in Undri area in Pune. Ganesh was already in school then but not his sisters and he always wished for them to be in school too. While conducting survey to find out of school children on the site, Ganesh was a big help to our team. When he understood our objective, he enthusiastically accompanied us to all the houses of kids staying in that area. He also expressed his wish to enrol his sisters to school and our team was more than happy to help.

Ganesh is a smart and helpful kid. He is regular at school and is especially good in Mathematics. He also helps other students with their studies. The teaching staff is all praise for him as are we.

Ganesh’s prowess at Maths prompted our team to look for ways to further his knowledge on that subject. We approached Mr. Barve of Bhaskaracharya Institute, Pune for vacation course on Mathematics. After the workshop, Mr. Barve got impressed by the boy's hard work and dedication and suggested to send Ganesh to attend Mr. Gore’s coaching class in Shanivar Peth, Pune. DSS team helped him to take admission in the coaching class.

The distance between Ganesh’s place of residence and the class is 11-15 kms. The class timings are in late evening, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm and Ganesh has to take a bus to commute. He has never complained nor has missed a class.

He manages his studies and helps his sisters and classmates too. He sees to it that all the children in his surrounding area attend school; in case they don’t listen, he informs DSS team for intervention.

In 7th grade, Ganesh stood 1st in his school and secured 85% marks with 96/100 in Mathematics. Since his last school was only till 7th, he has now been enrolled to a new school so that he can continue his education.

We, at Door Step School, strongly believe that every child can perform well with little help by right people at right time. Examples like Ganesh Sutar reiterate the importance and benefits of bringing all children into mainstream of education.

We wish Ganesh all the best for his further studies and look forward to help many other children out there waiting for support!

Friday, July 7, 2017

A journey of 10 her own words.

At Door Step School, we mostly work with children from migrant communities. Due to the nature of their parent's work, children are often forced to move from one location to another and hence remain away from education due to disruptions.We try to bring them in main stream of formal education and try to track them even after they migrate. Many a times however, we do not succeed in tracking.

People often ask us why we spend so much time and efforts on children who are anyways going to migrate and majority of them discontinue their education due to various reasons.

Meet Mehraaz, a student of Door Step School, Pune since last 10 years. She will tell you why it is important to bring migrant children into schools at the right age. Sharing her journey from an ou-of-school child on a construction site to a star performer in a main stream school in her own words.....  

I’m Mehraz Mullani.

While my father worked as a mason, we lived in a small room on a construction site. Our parents would be at work, and we used to idle the day away playing in sand and roaming around the site. One fine day, a small four-walled school called Door Step School (DSS) started on our site, and that was it. As soon as I heard school, I rushed into my house and curled up into a ball hoping that nobody will find me. I was terrified by the thought of going to school, but somehow – by tempting me with different toys and using a lot of other techniques – Chhaya Ma’am and Sunita Bhosale Ma’am would get me ready and take me to the school.

For a long time, I would sit in the school waiting for their eyes to wander, and as soon as I realized I wasn’t being watched I’d leg it and find a new place to hide. Without complaining even once, they would patiently find me and bring me back to school. This routine had become a part of our everyday life.

After a few weeks, I turned six – and that is when school really started to get fun. Our teachers at DSS started getting us involved in fun games, teaching us to draw, paint, and dance and organized a bunch of other fun activities along with distributing sweets and snacks. We would now be present in the classroom even before school began!  Our teachers would hold our tiny hands and teach us Hindi alphabet. I remember I was so fascinated with writing that I took permission to carry a slate and a pencil home and learned the entire alphabet.   

Then one day, Bhosale Ma’am – along with a few other teachers – took my father’s permission and enrolled me in Nehru Education Society’s primary school in the first grade. I was seven years old then. The one prominent memory I have is of scoring 98% in the first grade and before telling anyone, I rushed to Bhosale Ma’am to give her the news. I can recall as if it were yesterday the way her eyes moistened and her face lit up as she saw the progress I was making.

Then life took an unfortunate turn. For certain reasons, my father took our entire family back to our village and decided to settle there. I turned my nights into days trying to establish some communication with Bhosale Ma’am, but to no avail. I cannot begin to describe my surprise when I found out that Door Step School had traced me down and my teachers were trying to convince my father to come back and enroll me in the school again. After heavy persuasion, my father agreed – it was one of the happiest days of my life.

I now went to school from 7 to 12 in the morning, and spent my afternoon from 2 to 5 at the Door Step School center. This place was a safe haven – all the things that I hadn’t understood in school or wanted explained again were explained to me here.  It was the best of times – my curiosity and ambition were being kindled and I was finding happiness.

When I joined 5th grade, I realized that the curriculum had started getting difficult and I wasn’t able to do well. Math had started giving me nightmares. As soon as I shared this with my teacher, she arranged for me to join Door Step School’s ‘Sandarbha Classes’ (Reference classes) and assigned a teacher who helped me  with math. I was a good talker, so Door Step School handed me the opportunity to anchor in one of their annual programs. They were kind enough to appreciate me for having done a good job by giving me small gifts.

After some time, I had to leave my primary school and enroll myself into a secondary school so I joined Shivajinagar in the 8th grade. Right from a very small age I had been interested in drawing and art, so I participated in the elementary exam for drawing and passed with flying colors. Later in 9th grade I also participated in the intermediate art exam and excelled. For this very reason, my photo was printed in the local Pune city newspaper “Sakal”. It was a moment of pride.

Because we used to go on quests in our childhood, I was not affected by a fear of facing people and sharing my experiences. Hence, throughout secondary school I always bagged the first prize for narration and anchoring.  We sang so many songs in Door Step School that I had developed a liking for singing. Hence, I was always the first to participate in all my school’s singing performances and competitions. I had a talent for dance, and won numerous trophies and awards in dance competitions in and around my school. I was also a good Hindi speaker, and participated in the national ‘Hindi Rashtrabhasha’ examination. Not only did I win the competition, but I was also felicitated with a gift and the certificate in front of everyone. Everything I learned while performing many science experiments with my Teachers at Door Step School helped me bag the first prize in the Science Experiment Competition held in my school when I was in the 9th grade.

Today I have completed my 10th grade and scored 72.40%. I stood third in my whole school. Although I’m 17 years old now, I am still the same student that I was when I was 6. Everything that I have been fortunate enough to accomplish I owe to Door Step School and their continued inexhaustible support.

For me, Door Step School was that first step on the ladder to success and achievement that lead to a land of limitless possibilities. It has been more than 11 years since Door Step School took that tiny little girl’s hand and taught her the Hindi alphabet, and I have never once looked back from there. Today, my eyes moisten and my heart jumps with elation when my teachers here at Door Step School call me their ‘All-rounder Queen’. I cannot thank them enough for providing me such wonderful opportunities and holding my hand whenever the road got rocky.

Now, I always tell all the small children in my area to go to the Door Step School center here, because I strongly feel like they should also make the most of the opportunities provided here.
I am eternally grateful to Door Step School for everything they have done for me.

Written by Mehraaz. Translated by our volunteer - Kshitij Kothari.