Sunday, September 25, 2011

All Volunteer meet at LEAD Airoli Center

Hello LEADers,

I am sure those of us who attended the Volunteer Interaction today felt energized and inspired. At least I did. Here is what happened for those who missed it!
Around 26 of us arrived at the center for a completely informal interaction session.

The agenda of the meeting was clear- a platform for volunteers to meet each other, discuss and tell about their challenges, find solutions for the challenges, discuss about funds for LEAD, Joy of Giving Week and how we can help LEAD do better, reach more people..

The session started with a fun game- Names, names- Everyone will say, "Names, Names we all have name, you tell yours and we will tell the same (with actions :) Each participant has to tell his/her name and plan an action rhythm, others have to imitate the action. It was wonderful to see the smiles, laughter that our gestures brought.

Ameeta mam with her unique storytelling abilities, told an inspiring story - The Daffodil story. A story about how a single woman transformed a barren landscape into a beautiful meadow filled with different colored daffodils. The lady worked tirelessly since 1958 to make her vision of beauty and celebration come into reality by planting over 50,000 bulbs, her mantra- "One bulb at a time".

The story touched deep chords- It spoke about having a dream, a vision, working tirelessly for the vision.

Never being overwhelmed by the task ahead but taking things as they come..and the best of all- Its never too late to make a change, start today don't fret about not doing it yesterday.

This was followed by introduction with the contribution to LEAD as well as the challenges faced by each of us. It was wonderful to see how we all came to LEAD through various ways and how each of us contributed to LEAD and how LEAD contributed to our lives.

There were many challenges / suggestions discussed in the meet, some of them are listed here-

What to do when new people come to inquire about LEAD during classes, it wastes times and they many times do not come back - Kartha Mam (We learnt her first name for the first time today since we all knew her as Kartha mam, it is Sati)

Solution: Handling them LEAD's visiting cards with the website address and telling them to check and get back and contact the numbers given, sticking a note outside with contact detail of Rupesh/ Kailash and website detail. If they are genuine they will do so and come back, if they don't; we lose nothing.

Severe volunteer crunch faced in Airoli Center - Many volunteers

Solution: We all have a group of close friends, we can ask them for tea one day and talk to them passionately about LEAD. Our friends know us well and seeing our passion and love, show genuine interest.

Same thing can be done by us in an online medium, we can great our own google group, keep our close friends in it and inform them about the biggest events of LEAD. They will respond if we talk to them personally. (many of us have joined because our friends told us about LEAD and we hope we can inspire others too. best way is by talking)

Children don't come on time so two hours seem insufficient- Kartha mam

Solution: Since many volunteers already do fieldwork, there is enough goodwill in the community. In order to make them come on time we have to consistently apply reinforcement strategies- giving stars/ stamps on good behavior, taking away stars on unwanted behavior. They should be told one with maximum stars will get to sit with the teddy, or will be appreciated in front of the class.


We can make the elder kids (Maruti, Suresh) responsible by making them Leaders of their groups. They will be responsible for specific activities- on field visit/ sports/ hygiene/ discipline etc.

We need to star a mentor program with the kids- some young volunteers can select and mentor a child especially elder children and talk to them as friends. They need to be shown dreams, ways to achieve them so that kids are inspired and study hard.

On the same lines we can have practical visits to offices to show them how people work and how they can get here. We can tell them "you need to clear board and go to junior college, graduate and then get a job like this, you can do this".

A file for each child, in order to make parents of our kids more supportive and committed to educate their children, we need to show how good their children are doing, this by monthly meeting with parents where we show a file with their kids work- art, craft, studies.

(2 different volunteers will come each Sunday to prepare this, Rupesh has taken the task for assigning the work)

Since we have many friends who 'liked' LEAD's page on Facebook, we need to involve them by having discussion, the very first being- lets introduce ourselves and what we are doing with lead

After this discussion, Rupesh told us about the monthly expenditure for LEAD's three centres- Rs. 25,000 and how we need to raise this money through different activities.

-Firstly we are banking on the Joy of Giving week (2-8 Oct) to create awareness and more funds. We have discussed three strategies- Going to schools (conducting games, showing movies, selling chocolates), Colleges (collection drives, donation camps, volunteer registration), Corporates (stalls, team building games, fund raising competitions)

-We require more people to forward the proposals we have created for schools and colleges and give us more ideas and avenues for corporate activities. Just visit a school near you and take the print out of joy of giving letter, i will be sending and tell them to give us at least an hour.

-We also have the copies of 'Popular Science' Magazine which need to be marketed to raise funds. You will find a mail already passed in that respect. (hurry it is the september issue, we have also given it to our volunteers to sell it in their social circles)

-Kamlesh one of our volunteers has come up with an ingenious idea to create awareness and bring more people in LEAD. He has initiated a 'Ride for a Change' where riders will go on a trip to Malsej Ghat and they can contribute whatever they feel like for the cause.

So we have many ways of raising funds, we just need to start spreading the word!

Before I end the meeting, I will quickly mention the tasks undertaken-

Geeta will follow up about Ghansoli room

Priyanka will follow up on her SAP and other training to resume

Rupesh will follow up on Magic Bus to get us Sports experts

Rupesh will assign two volunteers to work on creating a file on each kid

All lead volunteers will start spreading the word consciously

Pratik will go to his college and talk about an activity about LEAD

Today session was totally successful even though we stretched to 7 pm ;)

What do you say guys, should we have an interactive session like this, on last sunday of every month (around the same time (3-6) ? (Please reply if interested)


Monday, August 1, 2011

Admitting Airoli Sec-14 Kids In the School !!

Thanks Shefali.. You could finally pull off with this report ;-))

I too can write at extreme lengths about these children and their parents and all.. But I guess, that's not needed now... you have already beautifully summarized the most essential part till now...

I feel Rahul needs to chip-in with some of the new admission process that happened after admitting these sec-14 kids... This will actually speak about our big achievement.....

Thanks to my cousin Roopali who sponsored all the stationary material for all these kids... Kids ( even & their parents ) were smartly & purposely charged up one day prior to their 1st school day with these beautiful attractive gifts ;-)) I still remember that late evening day when parents had expressed their gratitude to us and instructed their wards to be regular in the schooling !!

It was tough convincing Aishwarya's mom for sending her child to balwadi.. but finally thanks to the auto-wala , we could persuade her and today we could see and feel the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction & pride in her eyes when she sees all her 3 children going to school nicely decked up with their uniforms and school bags ;-)

So & so much more to tell.... but may be later.,..Till then, we may have fun seeing these 99 beautiful snaps..Here is the link ;-)


PS: For those, who want to know, how sec-14 community was adopted, plz read the most trailing email...

On Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 10:35 AM, shefali hegde wrote:

Hello to all my dear and lovely friends,

I hope most of my volunteer friends know me,still i would ls like to introduce my myself,i have joined LEAD AT 2009 with great dedication to do some thing for our slum kids and here goes the journey.......achieved lot of things,memories,love,etc.........(as Rupesh always says..nobody can run away from LEAD..... he/she has to come again here itself....and that's really true)...

Further because of mi higher studies, I was in Pune in 2010 carrying all the memories of LEAD and i was happy when i came back now.......n started my journey again in 2011 June......where i attended the workshop at our Airoli sec-19 center on child sexual abuse awareness..,by Arpan NGO......

I really felt happy meeting Kartha aunty, Rupesh, friends..Snehal, Amrutha, n many more......I really felt happy that day.....


Firstly thanks to people of Gurudwara in sec-14 for giving shelter to teach our sec-14 kids..we all the future leaders of sec-14 volunteers........namely myself, Rahul, Pooja, Sandhya,our smarty and intelligent Padale sir, Akash.......has taken a responsibility to make them as sec 19 kids..

There are around 10-12 kids who come to our Gurudwara center and happy thing is that they too have been admitted to the municipal school at sec-14 and 8.and we too faced little some problem with admissions of all the Balwadi,1st and 2nd std kids...I took all the kids along with their parents to school for admission....all were very happy to an auto rickshaw.....mainly father of our 1st kid..Yashoda whose father got burnt in his leg..still he wanted to come to the school in sec-8 for the admission of his kid..which made me really feel good...i met 2 beautiful teachers there named Waghmare teacher and Padwal teacher....Both were very very co-operative and actually thanking me for bringing theses the school....thereby one of the teacher completed the formalities of al the kids....n best part wwas that our lovely kids wanted to attend the school the same day.....and by this...the life of sec-14 kids changed....

Again I dropped the parents back home by auto...and it was happy to see that sweet and beautiful smiles of the parents...i felt a bit of satisfaction that...from next day me and Rahul drop children till bus stop and wait till the bus goes.....

The kids are so so excited to go. as they have school bus facilities (pick and drop) and its been 1 month now..the kids have lot of things now.... enjoying the journey of school

Here is the list of kids...

4ths std: Sagar

2nd std: Maruti, Akash, Sahil, Rahul, Suraj, Pinky, Mahesh

1st std: Yashoda, Raveena, Rakesh

Balwadi:  Aishwarya, Komal, Ashwini, Bhoomika (These 4 dolls/ angels dont have bus facilities but somehow with the help of Rupesh, we have arranged an auto for the kids as they are safe to go and come..It will cost us Rs. 750/- per month for their to & fro)

So here are our intelligent kids....Its hardly been 1 month now....and kids have learned lot of things like learned alphabets from A-Z,NUMBERS, hindi barakadi......and it as only possible with our volunteers....taking extra them..

Special thanks to Sandhya and Pooja our sunday volunteers,.....for teaching them with beautiful drawings and crafts ............with lovely colours....and entertaining them with movies (also thanks to Rahul for bringing chillar party movie for our kids.....which they enjoyed a lot..)

In the way......our journey is goin on......and we are now planning to have a heealth check up and hameoglobin test for our adoloscent soon as possible ......

Soon I will attach the beautiful pics of our sec-14 of pc is not allowing me to do so....anywaz...i am too feeling happy by sharing these thingse with u al.....

Meet u all again with future..updates ...till then bi.....take care all......have a good day..... ;-)

Thanks & Regards

Shefali Hegde

How did sec-14 work start ?

Not many of us are aware that LEAD has also adopted one more small slum community in Sec-14 Airoli. Around 4-5 months back, one fine sunday, I had gone to a Gurudwara over there to motivate the gathered devotees to volunteer with us; at least couple of hours in a week. I was informed that most of the people who came for the Sunday Langar over there were house-wives and senior citizens and hence I was very optimistic about the results. After their babaji's pravachan finished, I was offered a mike and given 5mins to broadcast our appeal. I did my best to stimulate the audience in 10mins !! As usual, lots of claps and appreciation but i was waiting for something else. People started getting downstairs for the lunch and I had still not lost the hope. I too started marching down and smartly placed myself near the main gate. I was requested like a special guest to sit and have the prasad but i wanted to be seen by everyone and hence preferred to stand. Couple of inquiries arrived and we exchanged the good words and contact numbers. I was content with this response from the crowd of 100-150. Its normal !! I started moving out, after thanking the person who gave us the platform to speak and while I started wearing my foot-wear, I saw a bunch of kids rushing inside the gurudwara. Anyone could understand about their background from their clothes and body language & the on-going Langar. What next? I had to wait for them to finish. And then followed them to know about their whereabouts. They all got spread into an adjacent small 10-12 family community - all shanties in an open ground -- exactly similar to our existing adopted ones. I soon found myself speaking to these children, their parents, schooling and all... This went on for about an hour and I walked out with a solid matter on black and white & some dreams with children waving their hands and loud taa-taas to me ;-) Work started. Went into a nearby D.Ed & B.Ed college. Principal got inspired. He allowed us to speak to his students, after about 15 days of paper-work and follow-up I gave an excellent motivational speech to these youngsters who have chosen this noble-profession! 25 hands-up among D.Ed and around 23 in B.Ed.. Amazing !! But I was more cautious !! We had a very bad experience of one of the degree colleges in Airoli, when LEAD took off... (All that's a longg story...some time later..) I had talked about the normal volunteering....what we do at our center with our kids......but they were shocked when I told them about the 'within-the-community teaching'....I thought this would excite them like anything.... But I was more shocked seeing the expressions and response of these 'to-be-teachers'.... They told me I cheated them.....I had to literally give them my piece of mind to shake them off!! They apologized and requested for the field visit. Meanwhile I had also entered into one of the BIG slum communities near Airoli D-mart store, when I had been for the shopping there ;-) around 32 children in this community were already going to the municipal school despite the PATHETIC living conditions.. A girl had managed to reach grade-9 while staying in an environment, where we 'civilized' people would not be able to sit for an hour!! B.Ed people were allotted this community and D.Ed people the sec-14 community. It was actually, this time when I had packed my bag for my 7-day NSS camp to Lavhali village (and came back to Mumbai with the 3rd community ;-) Proper time-table, schedules, each others' cell numbers, coordination guidelines - everything was handed over and explained !! When I came back after 7 days, almost everything had fallen flat !! All the high spirits, kind words, praises, promises to me and even kids ---- god knows kahan evaporate ho gaye....!! 10 different silly excuses for 10 people... Anyways, all this is diverting 4m our main topic !! Gradually, this number of volunteers from 50 came down to 30, 20, 10, 4, 2, 1 and soon zero .. all these within a month and repeated follow-ups !! Thankfully, we got two volunters Deepika and Akash who started the sessions for sec-14 kids on sat and sun. And we could some-how save our face before these kids. But we miserably disappointed the sec-10 (near D-mart) community... I remember, these kids used to gather before their teachers,super-excited... unwinding the chattaai, cleaning the floor of the open ground, even the non-school going ones.... I dont dare to face these sec-10 kids & their parents now..... 25 B.Ed pursuing students behaved like stupid silly casual new college going students and shamelessly did not even bother to inform that they cant continue !! How will they become responsible teachers ??? Grossly disappointed....!! Even their principal apologized to me on their behalf...... So we started with the regular weekend sessions in sec-14 with the help of Deepika and Akash and sometimes even me.. slowly we started shifting some of our teaching/learning resources there...keeping them in 3-4 big plastic bags in one of the kids' jhopdis ;-).. After some time, we could mobilize couple of people for volunteering there on weekdays to fill up the gap.. but that did not work well on commitment part !! And hence the struggle continues in this community... and it is in this situation that Shefali enters into this community as our savior -- all alone 5 days a week --daily 2hrs -- handling 13 children (all non-school going yet)...

Rupesh Gesota

Saturday, July 30, 2011

LEAD gets Ghansoli school too on track !!

Hi Amit,

Thanks for sharing this and most importantly for going head bravely as per our telephonic discussion.... ;-))

Many of us may not know this, but our Airoli municipal school teachers are still praising us and appreciating our efforts, as we could explain the right laws & practices to their school principal as this comes as a big relief (physical, mental and financial) for all the poor parents who were till now harassed to run after the notaries and get the affidavits of their wards done by paying/bribing them somewhere between Rs.200-500/- and all the related shit, which is not at all required as per by the bill that has become an Act now...

But the biggest disappointment is that even the school principals are not aware about this and due to their such stupid behavior, many kids are deprived of their basic right to education... This was one of the major reasons that I came to know from the parents, 3 years back, when I had asked them as to why don't they send their kids to school...and we too had unknowingly got the affidavits worth Rs.3500/- made for 35 kids....

But then, thanks to Arambh, who opened our eyes and we could finally set the things right in this school in 2009 and now even at Ghansoli municipal school !!  (I still remember the big fight that I had with the Airoli school principal regarding this matter, with the help of education officer ;-)))

So for all our new volunteers, this is what is LEAD !!  If we want to set the wrong things into right, we Can, provided we 'really' want to !!  ;-))

On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 5:48 PM, Amit Rao wrote:

Hello all,

There have been many cases where the school authorities have been asking us to submit the satya-patra on stamp papers of Rs.100 denomination. I would like to inform you all that no such formality is necessary to admit a child. The satya patra alone is enough to secure admission in a school.

We faced a similar incident at Ghansoli . The Marathi medium headmistress insisted on the stamp paper documentation. Even though she admitted the children to the school she didn’t give them the supplies as we hadn’t furnished the documents yet. This continued for more than a month and the children were denied uniforms, shoes and raincoats.  When Rupesh sir came to know about this, he informed me that we have already spoken to a certain education commissioner , Mr.Balasaheb Mane, and confirmed that the stamp papers are absolutely not necessary. I conveyed this to the headmistress and after a few checks here and there she obliged and withdrew her request.

So lets all be aware that its due to the lack of knowledge of the school authorities that such mundane formalities continue, even after RTE.

Amit Rao
Bachelor of Technology
Mechanical Engineering
NITK Surathkal

On Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM, Rupesh Gesota wrote:

We will NEVER give Nor allow the parents of our children to give any kind of stamp-paper... Its not the issue about rs.50/-  Its about something else !!

And Avishkar knows very well what I am speaking about !  And Amit, I have spoken to you about all this in detail... Most imp. -- you have to sound confident and firm & educated before these 'so called educated' people...  My weakness is I get aggressive on such occasions and this may spoil the show... So if any help needed, plz call me or even Avishkar for this matter...

We will 1st make them realize about all the right practices with examples .. Still if they dare to defy, we will have to stand up !!!


On Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 11:33 AM, Amit Rao wrote:

Hey !

PFA a sample of how the stamp paper document should look. It can be done in english as well. One for primary students and one for balvadi students - marathi medium. The students would be getting all the stationaries only after the completion of this process.

Amit Rao


Friday, July 15, 2011

All Ghansoli children in school now !

Hi Amit,

Good Job !!

All this reminded me some of my experiences when I had taken a gang of about 20 children and their mothers/fathers from diff slum communities in our Airoli based Marathi based Municipal school...Arun too was part of this...Aug 2008....So I do understand, the kind of feelings of satisfaction & achievement that a person might experience during this activity....

Nice Job....But honestly speaking, this is not an achievement actually... Its just a beginning.. Beginning of a challenge !!  Achievement would be to 'retain' these children into the educational system, given their socioeconomic background and our municipal school education environment...If we are able to ensure this, only then we succeed... Or else, there is no much diff between us and government.... (No,, we would still be better than government.. because we did the ground work and got the kids into the school...Ideally, its the govt's job now to ensure their retention...)

I am proud to say that we have pretty much nicely succeeded in this endeavor in Airoli since last 3 years...And this inspiring journey full of ups and downs, smiles and tears,  backed by the support of dedicated and passionate team of volunteers like you, Jyoti Madam, Avishkar, Nilima, Shahenaz, Suman, and even our new enthusiastic volunteers Vibhash and Madhavi Madam can surely pull off much better and efficient outcome in our Ghansoli center now...

All the best for the patchy road ahead !!!  ;-)

I have attached the excel file with this email itself...


On Sat, Jul 16, 2011 at 10:40 PM, Amit Rao <> wrote:

- Hide quoted text -
Hey !

This is less of a report and more of a narration of the admission scenario I faced few days ago.
It was only a week after I joined LEAD foundation at Ghansoli that I met Avishkar. He was to meet Geeta’s and Rajesh’s parents that day so he called me and I tagged along. This was the first time I had been to a shanty and my first time I would be meeting the parents of the children whom I had been meeting and teaching for a week. Avishkar did all the talking. I just smiled and reassured the parents that their kids are doing fine. On the way back Avishkar told me that few students had to be admitted to a school nearby and that this task had been procrastinated since a month now.  We went to the school after that, just to talk to the headmistress (Marathi medium) and  to check on how the kids were doing in the classrooms. She was very supportive and understanding of our kids.

Around 3-4 days after that Avishkar called me up in the evening saying that I had to get 5 kids admitted to the school. He also said that Jyoti Madam would accompany me. I was happy that I would be a part of this crucial task and so I readily agreed. He mailed me the details and a document which had to be filled as a replacement for their birth certificates. Even Rupesh sir messaged in the night regarding the admission of 3 other kids of Hindi medium and explained me the process and wished me luck. After a while Avishkar called and said that Jyoti ma’am was not free and I had to undertake this task myself! Honestly, I had headed few student projects in college but somehow this made me a little nervous, this was a bit different.  This might seem silly but this was the first time I had to get anyone enrolled to a school! The sight of me entering the headmistress’s room with 8 kids and their parents seemed a bit daunting. I discussed this with Avishkar and he told me something that I wasn’t aware of; according to RTE no government school can deny admission to any child, whatever may be the reason. I knew about this but I never thought I would have to use this one day. This definitely boosted my confidence.

Monday. I pack my shoulder bag with photocopies of the document ( satya patra) and a pad and I left for the bastis at Ghansoli. First I went to Deepali and Sheetal’s place. Their father was pretty enthusiastic of his daughters going to school (hopefully it continues), however, he was busy so their mother agreed to come with me to the school, after a bit of coaxing of course. Then I went to Manish’s basti. Same procedure but here his elder brother said he would come. Here I came to know of Maya and Akash (Manish’s siblings) who wanted to join the school as well, and whom I got enrolled the next day. Then I went to Rohit’s house and he was ready with his previous school mark sheet, his sister came with us. This is when I called up Rupesh sir for some reassurance, because seeing their attires and mannerism I was quite sure that any school would not entertain me, even with the RTE, as there are other children in the classroom too who are exposed to our kids and their parents won’t be that understanding. Finally I found Mahima’s mother and she came with us too. Filling the satya patra was a task as well. I never knew I would have to con so many fake birthdays in one day! ;-)  Then we left for the school, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Prathmik Vidyalaya, Koparkairne Sector-2. On the way I told the parents and the children about how to behave in the headmistress’s chamber and what all questions she might ask. As I knocked the door of the headmistress’s chamber I was happy she recognized me and gave me a smile but was quite surprised at the 12 member gang following me!  I told her about the students and their profiles. She spoke to each one of them, consulted two other teachers who were present in the room and decided on which standards to put them. Rohit was probably the only one who had been to a school before for more than 2 years. After that the teachers spoke to the parents and students regarding how they need to come to school and other necessary classroom etiquette ,the headmistress spoke to the parents again and then we left the school premises. I went back to our center (temple) after that I took the usual class for the Hindi medium students.Then a man from the basti behind the temple came and told me that he too wants to get his son Prem admitted to the school. I told him to come the next day as I had to go to the school for Akash and Maya anyway. He showed me where he lives and gave me his phone number.

Tuesday - Rupesh sir called in the morning and told me that Dishendra sir had taken care of admitting the Hindi medium students to the school in the morning and so relieved me of that task. I went back at the same time and went straight to Prem’s house and got him all ready to go to the school. On the way back I went to Akash and Maya’s house and got them all set too. They were a little reluctant initially about the school timings and cost. Manish hadn’t gone to school on his first day! He badly needed a haircut and said he would go the next day (which he didn’t!). After a small pep talk the family agreed and the elder brother came along. When we reached the school but it was the lunch hour so we had to wait for a good 30 minutes outside the school.  When the bell finally rang I went to the headmistress again. She was a little taken aback that I had got more students to her school. She joked if this would turn into a daily affair. This time after the usual admission processes she took down mine and Avishkar’s phone number for just-in-case purposes. But this time I was prepared too. I took a receipt from her with her signature on it, citing the children’s names and the fact that they were admitted to that particular school. So in all, a day well spent.

10 days Post-admission analysis- Most of them are pretty regular to the school. We have given them the necessary stationary required. Manish has gone to school only once. Maya and Akash have been to school thrice! I have spoken to Avishkar regarding this family and something needs to be done. Its not about the school cost, they are just plain indifferent. We will surely work on it, and soon !! 

My experience- I never thought that even by participating in such a small step, would change a child’s life so much. Now, I realize, that he/she has a purpose in life and motivation to do something. At least 5 hours of his/her day would be worthwhile. I am grateful that I could experience this.

I had taken just a few snaps as suggested by Rupesh Sir and this is the link ;-)

Amit Rao
Bachelor of Technology
Mechanical Engineering
NITK Surathkal

LEAD Foundation

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fantastic visit to Anugraha children's home and Clay Workshop at Lavhali

Dear Friends,

Plz find below the wonderful experiences shared by one of our volunteers Ameetha... Special thanks to our beautiful volunteer Geeta for playing the role of typist. ;-) (Ameetha doesn't have PC at her home and so she wrote this essay on a paper & Geeta took the pains for converting it into the digital form for all of us.. Two snaps-links are included within the report... ;-)

Cheers ;)

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: geeta kadam
Date: Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Subject: Fantastic visit to Anugrah and Lavhali
To: Rupesh Gesota

Dear Friends

 I decided on Sat 3'rd July to go with Rupesh to Lavhali Village in Badalapur. I decided to take a car so that we could carry the moulds and nutritional powder for the children. Rupesh always wanted me to visit Anugrah, home for children at Ambernath but that day we decided we will go straight to Lavhali as Rupesh had to return by 3.00 for an imp. meeting; but it seems there was a great pull ;-) As we were passing Ambernath and Anugrah on the way i felt like just dropping in for first 10 min and just see the kids and meet Dr Ila Paul. Rupesh and i decided to do that and when we entered Anugrah Dr Ila met us on way to school.

She asked us to join to join us to visit their school - Anugrah Vidya Mandir with 4-5 classrooms for all grades. I am telling you friends looking at the little kids, I could not resist urge to tell them a story that I had prepared " Chena and Mena". It was a beautiful story with great illustration of the elephant and the pumpkin.

As I narrated the story, the children responded so well, though little, they had so much intellect and enthusiasm and span attention. I taught them concept of beautiful, fat, small big, long short etc. The kids giggled and enjoyed.

I also showed them a colorful pop-up book about beautiful garden, puppies flowers, snails having raced crows catching worms ants carrying leaves dogs burying a bone, frogs swimming, bird feeding her chicks. Oh My God !! Their facial expressions and joy has been captured by Rupesh. Do check the snaps.We were just amazed by their learning zeal.

We then went to the higher classes. there I played a creative games of "Do this" and "Do that" game that got them to shed shyness become alert and focused and have fun.

I also got the boys and girls to conduct the game themselves to instil leadership quality and confidence. Through that game I tried to impart some skills. The students enjoyed and found it refreshing from their academic routine.

After interacting with the students we interacted with Dr.Ila and learned a lot from her about the working of her organization and about her challenges & her strategies. She also told us couple of personal inspirational stories about herself and work that really motivated Rupesh and me. It enriched us. We were there for about two hours so you could imagine how engrossed we were and happy to be there.

After Ambernath, we picked up Subhash Gowarikar sir at Badalapur and proceed to Lavhali with our volunteer Sunita. Subhash sir was going to teach kids clay modelling.

We reached Lavhali at about 2pm and were just surprised to see the now-almost-completed community hall of this village. Rupesh was in high spirits on finding this and then even went full-on voicing out his big dreams for the village kids -- computer center, library, fun-center, etc. He and Sunita zipped away into the village to gather the younger kids and then I showed them the ‘Popup book’. They were very fascinated. Meanwhile, Rupesh had already disappeared out of the village. Wish, he could witness the fun unleashed...

I then got the elder students to handle that book because it needed hand coordination to make the objects move. They were shy but soon couple of them came out and tried and I encouraged them to speak out aloud and they picked up some English verbs like swimming, carrying, feeding eating, flying etc

When Subhash sir’s session of clay modelling started with the kids they made a lot of things out of their imagination and creativity. They focused and were proud to display their creations. They were happy and joyful to create with their hands It was a great learning experience for them. I felt such hands on learning help them to develop life skills that cannot be explained by text book alone.

The girls there at Lavhali would need a lot of interactive activities and learning games to pick up the language.
Sunita and Subhash sir too interacted with the students in Marathi so well and taught their own set of values to the students.

On the whole it was a very soul satisfying awesome day spent. I felt good and peaceful that even it was just a trickle in the ocean I could contribute something.

I look forward contributing more for joyful learning of the kids at the LEAD foundation. Thank you Rupesh and god bless all the volunteers. You guys are doing a stupendous job.

At the clay modelling session there was a boy who made a wonderful mask ( like Alian ), My God! It was so creative. The kid also made hand fists using tools to carve out the shapes.

There was also a child Deepak, I met who was dumb and deaf (Rupesh told me that we are working on his rehabilitation) and he was so excited to create and show it to me. It really touched my heart and I realized Subhash sir’s clay modelling had added a zing to his life.

It is commendable to do these little acts of kindness. Keep it up LEAD!!

Thanks & Regards
Ameetha Singh
LEAD Foundation

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rehabilitation of Mallesh & Laxmi

Yes !! Its another feather in our crown ;-)

We had already, in the past, facilitated the rehabilitation of 3 children from 'extremely' serious condition to the shelter homes... and we know how cumbersome that process was !  But the outcome of that exercise makes everything worth it !!

A similar case cropped up around couple of months back... 

I am sure, many of our volunteers know our kids - Mallesh & Laxmi -- some of the brilliant & most sensitive kids but unfortunately born in a family that neglected them like anything...

Both of them were admitted to the municipal school by us 3 years back.. their bubbling enthusiasm in the initial days of schooling and 'special support of LEAD to these siblings' in various ways could somehow succeed in retaining them in the system for more than 2 years... we had put in so much of efforts for them....even facing the flak from their school teachers for their shabbiness, irregularity, neglect from their parents, & so on...We had to sometimes even beg before their class teachers to ignore all these secondary things considering this as a special case among our other children...

But gradually, their family atmosphere started going worse & more dominant, than LEAD, over the attitude and behavior of these kids.....and we started feeling helpless about this.. though we never gave up ! Repeated home-visits failed, literally running after them, THANKS to KARTHA MADAM & PATEL MADAM ,,even motivating our regular kids to motivate these siblings... and what not ? Kartha madam used to call me almost regularly for tens of minutes telling me about this chase & run & fail story... ;-)  I tried my best, whenever possible, to first take a round to their home as it was on my way from station to counsel the children and even their parents...

The father is a total gone case..the worst father I have seen in my life !! or should we really call him a father? Boozing off daily, not coming to home often, & if at all he comes, then he comes totally drunk -- he will never skip to abuse his wife as well as innocent kids -- physically as well as verbally -- thus creating an embarrassing & pitiful scene for the mother & his growing kids in front of their neighbors. These neighbors, who are not-so-different & not-so-unfamiliar with such regular incidents in these banjaari bastis -- but still don't mind playing the role of wonderful audience to this free skit !!  

So the father was never on track but at least mother was good. And frankly, we really went there to counsel 'her' and motivate her (our) kids. But gradually, even this poor lady, who single-handedly ran the family after toiling for hours in digging up the roads and other construction work.. she resorted to alcohol .. Why ?

"kya karoo sir... aadmi itnaa maartaa hai... main bhi kaam karke aati hoon.. bahut thak jati hoon... ghar pe aake saman lene ko jane ka...aur khana banana padta hai.. .. phir admi peeke ata hai..gaali deta hai... sabke samne marta hai... mere baccho ko marta hai...mar khane ka takat toh hona chahiye na...?"

This further worsened the already worse condition of children...and we were almost losing the complete hold over the children...  Then one fine day, we got the news from couple of our volunteers and even other kids that these siblings were found begging on the platforms, working for the pani-pura walas washing the dishes for making some bucks.... Why? 

"maa peeke aati hai.... khaanaa nahin banaati hai kabhi-kabhi...baap bhi maartaa hai.."

We zoomed in .. this time for firing the mother. She cried with her own problems, in the drunken state... Meanwhile, the father arrives and he adds fuel to the fire... All this I witness at 10pm !!

Counseling & warnings were already in vain,,, So it was now time for a whip !! Sent SMSes to Aiorli based volunteers to help me with some local policeman in their contact, so as to threaten the kids about the child-labor, jail and all... After lot of follow-ups, a hawaldar helped us... I told him about our work and requested him to come in uniform,,, 

I think it was around 9.30 in the nite...I took him to the shanty where our defaulters stayed,... People had come from their work.. .they looked exhausted....Meals were being made... kids were either wandering or sleeping.... I call the kids....The sight of me with a police-man horrifies them....I snatch their hands and hand-over them to the man in uniform.....He warned them, I made them cry, I made them shout...I made them beg...I made them promise....I knew I was cruel but I knew what & why I was doing !! The best part was, and I am proud of that, all the parents & the entire community supported me and praised me for this trick !!

But it seems Someone did not like this... And I had to pay the price for this cruel stint... I fell down while coming out of this construction site and damn it - broke my knee....some of you are aware about my month long  house-arrest but not about the story behind this ;-)

Anyways, so all these finally did not work... not even my poilce-man wala naatak !! Situation got worst from worse and sadly & helplessly we were getting used to the complaints/feedback from our other kids about the instances of these siblings turning child-laborers cum child-beggars...  But still, whenever Kartha madam used to see them, she always tried her luck...with lots of efforts...little hope...but no fruits... Even I kept the fight ON despite successive failures...because, we knew its not the kids who are at fault !!

It seems to me, now, that Some one was seeing taking a note of all this follow-up & it was a test of our perseverance... Because one fine day,  I got a call from an unknown number --

"Sir, main mallesh ki maa bol rahi hai.. aap please mere bachcho ko kidhar bhi achchi jagah pe daal do.."

I was stunned ! But then happy...I could make out from her tone that she is drunk (& beaten?) so I tell her that I will come to meet her the other day...

"pukka aayegaa na sir ?"

I was happier now. "haan..pukka"

But I couldn't go ;-( She calls up again, complaining about my breach of promise.. 

"sorry...kal subha 7 baje aoongaa....theek hai?"

"pukka aayegaa na?"

"haa baba..pukka..." ;-))

I was late in the morning... so again couldn't go... But I could not dare to betray her that day... It must be around 8.45pm.. I go there to witness complete darkness... 

I had to shout - "Mallesh ki maa?"

2nd time !

I could hear some movements and the lady comes out. Her walking style and body language suggested she was again drunk. I tell her there is no point in speaking to her in such a state. But she insists she is in control of her I continue...

she pleads for admitting her kids somewhere at the right place.. and then narrating the same sad story...with her hands folded, voice trembling and eyes moist now..... I leave the place after confirming her about her decision and then call up Asra - a boys' home near Airoli, another place where I try to go whenever I get some time....

I narrate the case and since they also know me and LEAD, they agreed for admitting Mallesh... I was so happy...  But their team was leaving for a camp and hence suggested me to follow-up after about 15 days... I inform about this to the mother..She was happy to know that the work has started... This further boosted me...

However, I keep getting 4-5 missed calls in the night every alternate day after about 5-6 days of this incident... A call back would just mean the same inquiry in the drunken state -- "sir, aapne ne poochaa kyaa?  kabhi daalegaa bachche ko?"
Sometimes, this used to be so irritating but I had to really keep myself cool -- a damn difficult task for me  --to understand her pain within.... So I answered her call some times while rejected or ignored the other times...

I had kept a reminder, so did not forget the 15th day. 
That Asra guy had forgotten the story.. and I had to repeat everything....He now suggests me to present the child with the family to child welfare committee, child already has parents and all that process....and then come to Asra ...

"What? Why did not you tell all this things to me 15 days back? We could have been ready with all this till now !"

"mujhe lagaa aapko pata hoga..."

and many not-so-good verbal exchanges followed....Finally I could get him to connect me with some personal contact  in Childline as I was not in the position (& honestly, I could not find anyone from my phone memory who could do this real serious field work task on weekday).. as presenting b4 CWC is not going to be so easy.. we have some very harsh experiences of the past...many questions still just wanted to avert all these and use the influence this time, which I normally don't like...

It took around next 5-6 days for him and my consistent follow-up to share the number of one of the guys from Childline...I thanked him and immediately call him up.... Surprisingly, he is unaware of the story and I repeat again....  After explaining LEAD and our other practical problems, he agrees to pay a personal visit to Mallesh's family...  The date and time gets fixed... 

I ring up one of the most trustworthy persons of LEAD -- Kartha madam -- who is well updated about this story till now.. I request her to coordinate with Childline and escort them to Mallesh's home.... Meanwhile, a similar case of a widow with 4 kids had cropped up in our sec-17 community and we thought of presenting her case also to Childline on the same day...

Kartha madam had finished her 10-12 batch.. which normally finishes not before 12.30... Sharad (from Childline) had still not arrived and I had to creep in for this problem.... "I am still in train.. will take one more hour"

I apologize to kartha madam and request her for the support... 
I knew she will agree instantly....

Both connected... at about 1.30pm.. Kartha madam first took her to mallesh's home (airoli gaav),.. both the mothers were 'strictly instructed' (as request does not work with them, even if its for their benefit) not to leave their homes that day..... Childline interviewed the mother with all the history/geography/problems/reasons and even about LEAD's support... Fortunately the father was also present at this time and he witnessed all these proceedings.... He did not want to send his daughter away from her...son may go...But the daughter really needed more serious support...anyone could make out, if her health is not taken seriously, she could die any moment....and einkettis' younger brother's case is still haunting us... But Kartha madam could take him into confidence and this helped Childline in developing a good faith about us and our work.... 

So this was done.. and Kartha madam now got Sharad to our center (as its on the way) for a break and even to show our work properly, before taking him to sec-17... I got a call from her at this stage and it was a big relief from me....  they then left for another family in sec-17 and similar process was repeated..... 

I again get a call, this time from Sharad that he has taken down all the details and photos and will soon revert back... I thank him gratefully and the matter closed.,...

The same night, I get a call from Mallesh's mother... but this time her tone was different.... It was all praises and thanks and gratitude and no complaints..... I suggested her to look after her kids well till the process gets fully completed....Both of us hang up happily ;-)

After about 2 days, I get a call from Mr. Sharad to tell both the mothers to come along with their kids to UlhasNagar -- child welfare committee office.. at about 11am on Friday I guess... He had already presented the case to them and CWC wanted to meet them now.... So we give the hindi translated address to mallesh's mother and tell both of them to coordinate and go together at the venue.... It was tough explaining her how to reach there from Airoli...   Sec-17 mother was instructed to reach Mallesh;s home at 9am so that they can reach there at 11am...  But they did not each other... So I take Krsihna (the sec-17 boy) on my scooty and show him Mallesh's home .. It was dark again and so I tell him to observe & remember the landmarks properly... He sounded more confident than me ;-)

The next day -- d-day --- breaks open... I get a call from Mr. Sharad at 10.30 am asking if the ladies have left... I tell him they would have left, for sure...they might be on the way... Still I call up Mallesh's mother to take the stock of the situation and get shocked to hear that she is still in Airoli !!!
She gives me the silly excuse that the other lady has not yet turned up....  I had to instruct her to run immediately for the venue or face disappointment.... I apologize to Mr. Sharad and request her to cooperate...

She again calls me while in the train as to get down at which station... she has misplaced the address slip !! Fortunately I had one and so request the lady sitting next to her to make her get down at the right stop.... I had to also give the cell number of Sharad to her again... 

God knows what happened after this.... But I got a call from Sharad after couple of hours that the case is done !! An official order was passed by CWC to admit both the siblings - Mallesh and Laxmi -- in the same ashram (hostel )..  The place was Satkarm Ashram.. this is near Badlapur....

I feel a sudden splurge through my body because--
1) both the siblings will stay together
2) this is in badlapur -- a place not at all unfamiliar to us now ;-)
3) It was through childline and CWC-- official bodies and hence the place can be trusted....

I go full-on and thank Mr.Sharad for all his effort and patience.. and he humbly acknowledges "Its part of my job!!" He tells me to send the children to the ashram anytime after 3-4 days... as he will have to first go and inform them about these 2 new inmates...and complete other formalities...  This reminded me of our previous case of Deepa and Durpa -- we had used this filler time to arrange for necessary items for the children.... 

That night I go to Airoli gaav to see the smile on the face of Mallesh's mother and take her children's bites...and then to sec-17  to know the reason for defaulting by that lady.. she gave a silly stupid reason for which she had to face my flak ....

I gave the good news to kartha madam & requested her to help mallesh's mother with raincoats and all, as suggested by Sharad...
And she did this work beautifully again !!

Children were super excited with all these... there was no sign of any kind of pain due to departure from their mother... as expected ! 

In fact, they had even happily started coming to our center after this and I and kartha madam were surprised to note this !! may be we should have intervened long back to see these smiles and relieve them of the pain and plight they have gone through...but we somehow never thought of this option... thank god, their mother called us that day and the process picked up !!

Another d-day arrived ;) It was time to escort these kids to the ashram now.. Sharad was gong to wait for us again at Badlapur station...and don't know why, I wanted one of us to be present during this final journey.... one reason being the moral support for our kids....and secondly to tell childline and ashram people that we are still there for these kids !!

But who will go? It was a day-time and weekday.... During such  field-work cases, the only names that come to my mind are Avishkar and Snehal....  I ringed up this guy and fortunately he had the night shift that day... He was so happy to hear all these.... & I knew this as he too has taken lot of pains for these kids during the days of our 1st center at airoli-gaav.... I connected all three of them and they coordinated beautifully... I requested Avishkar to do all the scrutiny for our satisfaction and he gave me the good news in the night while on his way from the ashram for his night-shift job. 

Mallesh's mother again called me up in the night to say Thank You. I could feel extreme ecstasy in her tone...She really liked the place a lot and more- her both the kids were together.... and we will be thankful to Sharad and CWC for taking this sensitive decision...

Things were going good.... I had got a call from Sharad after 3-4 days regarding the Leaving certificate of these kids... as they need to be admitted to appropriate grades over there.,.. I promised for all the coordination and our volunteers Abhinay, Kartha Madam and Sadanand too were roped in for the reqd. support at various levels... This further delighted Sharad about our team-work ;-)

But seems, things didn't really want to end so easily and happily.,... Some more challenges were on the way... I suddenly get a call from Sharad in an angry and upset tone...He complained to me what kind of case I have referred to him...I was taken aback hearing all this...

"the mother had gone to the ashram and started fighting with the people over there to allow her kids to go with her to her native for her grandpa's last rites... if you remember, we had told you and her in the beginning itself that such things wont be entertained...we have seen many such cases and kids & parents dont turn up back thus wasting our all the time, efforts and money.. when denied, she insisted for the release of her daughter at least, if not the boy... that ashram people called me up telling what is this case..I told them not to entertain her and tell her to speak to me... "

I felt embarrassed....& I completely agreed with him on this matter... I too cant trust this drunkard family till now....and anyways, grandpa was dead now and not dying...besides, kids' school had started... and many other valid reasons... I requested him for lending us some time to look into the matter... 

I had no choice to go and speak to her personally about her shit-skit... next day was saturday and I so I planned to rope in Kartha madam again for this second & more challenging round... She too got deeply upset hearing all this and we instructed her to turn up at the fixed venue and time... she came worried, tensed as if prepared to take the whip from us....

After we gave her our piece of mind , she opened up the secret - 'meraa aadmi mujhe bahut maartaa hai...boltaa hai ladki ko leke aa...nahin leke aayi toh teraa khoon kar doonga...main kya karoon madam, mujhe bahut dar lagtaa hai...sab log bhi mujhe yahi bolta hai ki ladki ko leke aa...'

I had to calm down now...but asked her what was more imp for her.. her own breaths or her children's lives... I warned her, if she gets her daughter out, I will see to it that even her son will be out and both will be back to shit forever... I even told her to file an FIR against her husband...

We had by now started walking on the road with umbrellas pulled up.... Seeing her pain and worry, Kartha madam intervened and tried to console & counsel her... I knew she is the best person for this,,, Even I knew that the mother would listen to her... She suggested her the best option -- go away somewhere where her rascal husband would not be able to trace her.....

"agar main aapke jagah pe hoti toh main toh yahi karti..jaao na..itnaa kya darta hai apne aadmi se... kuch nahin hogaa..." 
I could feel the real power & confidence & boldness in this old woman's voice....  ;-)  There was some pause now.. seems, everyone was thinking something... ;-)  by this, we reached the crossroads at which we had to take our diff paths and I thought of again re-iterating our decision.... "Remember -- your daughter will not come out alone... be prepared to look after your son as well then... "  I knew, she will NEVER let her dear son suffer again.. she had spoken to both of them... both of them were very happy over there.....

She took the right and we took the left, further discussing about this serious issue...we decided, we will never ever intervene into such rehabilitation matters now... Draw a strict line -- this is just what we do !!

I call up Sharad in the night to update him about this  and he seemed quite satisfied with our action.... I told him to just wait and watch now,,,as we dont have an option...

Fortunately, neither he nor we received any call from this mother in the next few days....  ;-)

But some other magic did happen.... I got an email from one of our badlapur based volunteers - Suneel Sir - who goes to Lavhali on every saturday to teach maths to our elder students over there... He is also associated with this ashram since long and goes there to teach the kids over there... ;-)

On Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 11:00 PM, suneel karve <> wrote:

Hello Rupesh,
Today during casual discussions i learnt from Mallesh (Rathod) that he was attending "LEAD "sessions while in Airoli. His Face actually brighened up whan he spoke about Airoli. He is in Satkarma Ashram from June 2011 . Even his sister Laxmi  staying in Ashram seemed to have fond memories of about LEAD.Other boys have informed me that Mallesh is quite bright and good in studies.

So, I tell Suneel Sir about Mallesh and Laxmi's story in short...

On Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 11:00 PM, suneel karve <> wrote:

I do not find a student like Mallesh with zeal to learn and having his survival instinct in full force.
Its not that I had forgotten them..But I was planning to go to satkarm-ashram personally and surprise mallesh and laxmi, instead of talking to them over phone... but unfortunately, some other more imp things always cropped up in airoli or gahnsoli...And secondly I knew they were safe and happy as I had paid a visit to this ashram long back... b4 this case...  ;-))

But as they say -- We don't need wires to communicate our genuine feelings.....  ;-) and I received a call from Mallesh and Laxmi from Ashram a week back ;-)  ( thanks to Suneel Sir again )

"Sir, aap kaisa hai?"

It was Mallesh's voice...There was so much of zeal and happiness flowing out from one heart to another heart through wires....oops, wireless ;-)

"main theek hoon..tu kaisa hai?"

"main bhi achchaa hoon.."

"achcha lagtaa hai na, wahan pe?"


"school jaataa hai?"  




"khana achha lagta hai?"


"naya dost log milaa kya?"

"haan.. ashram mein bhi..aur school mein bhi..."  

Finally, 'Answer in One Word' type responses came to an end ;-)

"hamaara yaad aataa hai?"

"haan..bahut aataa hai..."

"kartha madam ka yaad aataa hai?"


"Oonko kuch bolneka hai tujhko?"

"kya bolneka?"  ;-))  

"theek hai...tere behen ko phone de..."

"laxmi ko?"


I could hear some hand-over...

"Hello?", a loud and confident one from the other side.

And I was like -surprised. You won't believe this... But I could actually feel some difference in her voice and tone... It sounded quite matured.. But it's still difficult for me to grasp this...I am eager to verify this personally now...

And the same Question Answer sessions got repeated, but with more enthusiasm from my side this time ;-) After all, I am a modern teacher, why should I take trouble in inventing new questions ;-P  Cut, copy , paste ;-P

The new things that she added were some demands.... ;-) Yes, she actually gave me  a demand list ;-) 

"mere ko bindi chahiye, kaan ka bhi nahin yeh, gale ka haar nahin hai.. haath mein baangdi bhi nahin hai.... mallesh ko bag chahiye... mere liye ek aarsaa lekar aao...baal ka tel bhi chahiye..."

I happily & patiently did the job of a loyal waiter ;-))  I said her ok but I said to myself -- 'Not only yours, but the list of all your inmates will soon be fulfilled'

"aap kabhi aayegaa?"

"jaldi hi aaoonga"


"bahut jaldi"


Oh my god !! This little lady seems to have decided to take me head-on ;-))

"nahin kal nahin.,,,.lekin jaldi hi aaoongaa...."   ;-))

I am still craving for that jaldi'....  ;-((  

Do check the smiles attached....  and even this link that will navigate you to the ashram where they are admitted..... Thanks to Avishkar for the ashram snaps...

Mission Successful !!!! ;-))

Thanks & Regards

Rupesh S Gesota
LEAD Foundation