Continuing from the last post, volunteer Anil who had accompanied Raunak to Rakesh’s place shares his experiences.
experience this time in terms of the way I perceived things in the society so far, understanding the core problems of the society and importantly, interacting with the unseen real heroes of the society. There were a lot of surprises in store.
Visiting an urban slum, talking to the people over there, and interestingly having dinner with them without informing them in prior about our visit. Though they were looking at us as if we were from CBI in the start, introducing ourselves as friends of Prasad made a huge difference; within a minute there were a couple of cool drinks in front of us, and the child’s mother started interacting with us and soon his father and granny involved.
The kids there were extremely talented not just in studies, also in extracurricular activities. I think the entire credit goes to Prasad who is dealing with the slum since 2 years and we should definitely bow to his the strong and dedicated efforts in convincing the parents to send their kids to his Abhyasika (tuition center). He doesn’t stop there, he enquires at the kid’s home if he misses even one day of the Abhyasika. He basically works with a group of volunteers in teaching basic math, reading and writing in Telugu, Hindi and English and importantly he works on the character building (samskar) of the children along with some extracurricular activities which keeps the children active and refreshes them.
I went to a kid’s home named Rakesh aged about 8 who just started his school. He is so talented that the school agreed with Prasad to take him directly into class 5th soon after this academic year with minimum basics in math and languages. His parents were very enthusiastic about their kids’ education and future. His father is an auto-driver and mother is a daily laborer. I was really shocked that these people can earn up to 30k per month (which includes income from his two brothers), on par with those working in corporate. But I wondered about their life and living in that slum since three decades. Lots of questions popped in my mind soon after we left that place and assembled at the meeting, and it was Prasad’s turn to answer our queries.
It was an eye-opening experience for us because, I was told by Rakesh’s parents that they were really interested in his education but the reality is that his mother is never interested in his education and she makes him cook, clean the utensils, wash clothes and do all home-needs as a replacement to her daughter who got married few years back. So she is never interested in his education as she has to do all work alone without his assistance. Not just Rakesh, almost every family thinks the same. If this is the situation with boys at home, I just had a thought on the girl child’s situation. Then I understood what ground work has been done by Prasad in making the parents aware about the children’s education. Coming to their huge differences between the income levels and their living, we noticed that it was their life style that is the culprit. They almost spend half amount in smoking and drinking and they feel very prestigious when it comes to festivals and celebrations. They make huge debts with heavy interest which they use solely for celebrations and even for the dowry. So its basically the poor management of their income, spending and savings.
On the next day in the afternoon we went to Vivekananda memorial high school where I have seen an entirely different system in which they teach children. Children don’t have to carry loads of books on their back, no home works, no punishments, no compulsion to sit in a particular class, freedom to bunk classes…:D. Basically the classrooms were divided subject wise and the student can sit in any class he wishes to study, discuss and prepare. To ensure the student covers all subjects, periodic assignments will be given and regular monitoring of every student is done. The school follows NCERT syllabus for primary and State syllabus for secondary. They even have 25% reservation for under-privileged children which is a non-caste reservation, and they provide free education to these children. Apart from these, the sole intention of the institute is that each and every child must study and the system should be concept oriented. Looking at the school, I felt I should have studied here and I felt happy the way the present day institutions are adapting to the needs of the country. We hope such institutes emerge on a large scale..!
In the evening, we had some competitions among volunteers where we need to solve a puzzle which tested our knowledge of YFS. But it was like a cake walk as atleast one in each team is a full-timer. The next task was to imagine the slum we went on the other day and draft it how it looks after a couple of decades. I used all my civil engineering to think and finally came out with an idea. But I was really heart broken in the final presentation with my plan and elevated views as the faces of the audience turned weird looking at my drawing. Then I just consoled myself saying “Only a Civil engineer can understand a Civil engineer ” …..!
Finally the program was called off after an inspiring speech from Ravinder ji, Founder of Vandemataram Foundation which recharged us with a great feel of patriotism before our 66th Independence day…!