Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heroes of Hope in the Education Sector

The Times of India-Crest's first issue for this year featured 25 men and women who are making a difference in the world. We are posting two articles from this issue which are related to the education sector. Click here to read the entire issue and learn about the other changemakers.

From the article 'Alpha Beti':
In the summer of 1989, Shaheen Mistri, just 18 then, watched as street urchins with bright eyes pounded on car windows at a traffic light, holding out their palms for a coin, or a crumb, only to be swatted like flies by the rush of people both irritable and impatient. Her heart went out to them, and in one swift roll-down of the windowpane, Shaheen had let the kids into her life.

Then a first-year student at a college in America, Shaheen had lived abroad all her life and was in Mumbai on a vacation. The poverty she saw on the streets of Maximum City moved her so much that she decided to stay back in India to do her bit.

Shaheen dived headlong into the slums of Mumbai and founded Akanksha, now one of urban India’s most popular NGOs with an army of volunteers teaching underprivileged kids at over 60 centres in Mumbai and Pune. Akanksha also runs six municipal schools in the two cities. “We want to develop them as model schools for government bodies as well as NGOs to emulate,” says Shaheen.

At the heart of Akanksha’s success lies Shaheen’s infectious, childlike enthusiasm coupled with innate resourcefulness. “I had never visited a slum, so I simply marched into one at Cuffe Parade, and instantly connected with a girl my age, although she didn’t know any English and I barely spoke a word of Hindi,” she says. Shaheen would visit her every day after college. She picked up a smattering of Hindi from the slum
kids, and began teaching them English.
Read the entire article here.

From the article 'From Hides to Seek' :
Until some years ago, they were treated little better than the dead animals whose bones and hides they collected. But that was before the hadbinnas of Barabanki decided to rewrite their destiny. Ganesh Prasad, a hadbinna (scavenger), says the weapon he and his community chose was education. The president of the Pashu Shav Uchchden Udyogic Utpadan Sahkari Samiti, a cooperative society which runs 62 shikshan kendras in 45 villages of Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, with a roll call of over 5,000 children, he proudly claims that the schools are for other Dalit children too.

The Samiti, which was started in 2000 with help from Unicef, has not only helped hadbinna children grow up to become doctors and engineers but also aided a host of other BPL families. Prasad’s daughter, too, is a gynaecologist.

The shiskhan kendras themselves are run under thatched roofs — often tin shades come in when there is nothing else — and students are trained in reading, writing and simple mathematics.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source:
Jasvipul

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