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

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