An untied shoe lace. A torn notebook. A shared love.
“He was hiding behind his mother, bowing his head so I couldn’t see his face. Was he an ostrich? I wondered why he was so shy. I asked Sarita, my house maid, what his name was. Mohit. “How old are you?” No reply. “What class are you in?” Not a word. “Why are you hiding?” Nothing. His mother told me he loves school. “What subject do you like?” Math. Finally, a word! I asked him to get his book if he ever needed help. The next day, to my surprise, he turned up with a torn second hand book. He was sharp. He was eager. He came every weekend. This was in the summer of 2012. The next summer, he was back. His mother told me he asked her repeatedly when I would be back from college. He had saved all his Math test papers to show me. He told me his classmates were jealous. I resolved to myself-“Soon they won’t be!” I went to meet the school Principal the very next day “
Saraswati Balika Vidya Mandir School
Saraswati Balika Vidya Mandir School in Noida is a school for underprivileged students in my city. I used to teach my household help’s son over the weekends. He told me that some of his other classmates also wanted to be tutored. That’s when I decided to visit the school and volunteered to hold remedial classes for the weaker students in the summer of 2013. Thereafter, whenever I was home for vacations I made it a point to visit the students and help out with the weaker topics.
Lioness Club, New Delhi Chapter
I volunteered with the Lioness club in setting up numerous schools all over Noida. We also established vocational centers to teach women skills in embroidery, sewing and other such crafts. Lionesses meet the needs of local communities. There are more than 2000 members in my district Lioness club and more than 200 Cabinet Members. The common belief : “We serve”. I was very active in two particular ventures:
Asha Sadan, Assisi Convent Senior Secondary School, Noida
The Prison Ministry India (responsible for rehabilitating and educating prisoners and their families) established Asha Sadan in Noida to cater to 34 girl children with free boarding and lodging.They are provided an education, along with other facilities like shelter,clothing and allowances for further education in the Assisi Convent Senior Secondary School, Noida. Honorary Ms. Kiran Bedi Ma’am started the program. Ms. Kiran Bedi is a highly respected Indian Police Service member who did wonders in reducing crimes against women in the national capital region. She even won the president’s police medal in 1979.As a member of the young Lioness club, I mentored the girls. They needed direction and motivation to study hard. I would regularly meet the girls and engage them in meaningful conversation about their career path, aspirations and future goals.
Shiv Shakti Mandir, Noida
The Lioness Club started a program to teach local women how to sew and embroider so that they could work for local boutiques and provide financial support to their families. I helped raise money for two sewing machines and now classes are held every day for women aged 15 onwards.
Amitasha, by Amity Foundation
Amitasha is a school for underprivileged girls, initiated by Dr. Amita Chauhan, Chairperson of the chain of Amity International Schools. Amitasha provides free education, uniforms, books, meals and healthcare to underprivileged girls.I got involved in the after school volunteer program where I taught the girls Math and English. I volunteered through my 6th grade to 11th grade, when they were short on faculty for some of the classes.
“It was my first class at Amitasha. Eight bright smiling faces of second graders looked up at me. I had been informed that I was to help them revise the poem they had studied earlier. The first assignment was on antonyms. It had already been done once in class. I read out to myself the first word- ‘awake’ and out came a loud response- ‘asleep’! I was impressed. I asked one of them to use ‘awake’ in a sentence. If it was a cartoon, you could have heard crickets. I asked them the meaning of the word. More crickets. I asked them how awake and asleep were related. Nothing. They neither knew the meanings nor the fact that these two words were opposites. They were hard working so they had learned by rote what the teacher had told them without really comprehending. ‘If the kids don’t understand how a teacher teaches, then the teacher must teach in a manner that kids understand.’ That’s the kind of teacher they needed. I decided to play that role for them.”