You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. This is the mantra behind the motivation of a group of friends hailing from a building complex in Lokhandwala, Mumbai.
The idea to start a school sprung to life after Mr. Patrick, a philanthropist himself, spoke to these friends about the importance of giving back to society. ‘Giving back’ as he explained was not by donating material things to a charitable organisation or giving alms but by donating something far more precious, ‘Time’. There is no gift greater than that of education and nothing nobler than imparting knowledge for free.
That very evening Jayati Malkani, Madhulika Agarwal, Shikha Bahadur, Vinita Margo, Seema Mirchandani, Loveena Ramdassaney and Sneha Rohra, all residents of Green Acres Society, met in the building gardens to brain-storm on how to setup their new venture. All charged up, they set out looking for areas where they would find street urchins. In Mumbai, as you would imagine, this is not a very daunting task. Lucky for them Shanti Bhagat spotted them and helped them find children. The kids were playing on a footpath, the sight of their soon to be school. The ladies lured the children in by offering them sweets and promised them the same if they were to visit again the following day. And so the school enrollment process began.
On 10th September 2010, the new teachers began a clean-up drive of the area where the classes were to be held. The children were already there, as promised, with the hope of getting another sweet or chocolate perhaps even something a little more sumptuous. What started with 9 kids on day one slowly increased in strength to 60 children as word spread of the possibility of food and education for these children. The kids, all children of construction workers, lived nearby in the shelter of a building undergoing construction. The girls and boys aged from 3 – 15 years from different parts of the country all had one thing in common, a thirst for knowledge.
The new teachers contributed money to purchase books, stationary and school bags for these children. The kids were even photographed for their very own school I.D. card. A car filled with books, seating mats, chairs, slates and snacks makes its way to school everyday. On some occasions and auspicious days the students are treated to pav-bhaji, ice creams and cakes, something a little different from the usual after school snacks, which comprises of biscuits, bananas, samosas etc.
Many a passerby have also come to the schools aid. Often donating things like books, writing slates, snacks etc. Some also volunteered their time and turned up to help the class during school hours. Mrs. Shanti Bhagat, a volunteer, is now one of the most dedicated person the school has and donates her precious time every single day. An art teacher sponsored an art workshop. A dance teacher, Mr. Irfan, sponsored some dance classes and even made the children perform at Bhaidas hall, JVPD, Mumbai, were hundreds had gathered, parents included, to see the children perform on stage in their dance outfits. Mr. Irfan also came to the school’s rescue when the monsoon threatened to shut down the school by offering his dance studio to the school so that the rain did not hamper regular class.The school has employed a teacher. The kids are taught everything from English alphabets to the numbering system, from arts and crafts to manners and hygiene.
The school also celebrates all festivals. On Diwali the kids are given firecrackers. Christmas is celebrated with cake, but of course! The Republic Day of India is celebrated by making Tiranga and learning the national anthem. On friendship day, the children make bands for one-another. They even tie friendship bands to their teachers, their new friends.
The kids also participated in a craft fair at Parle (East) for 2 days where they put up a stall and sold Diyas, Envelopes, Rakhis and Paper bags. All proceeds went towards the running of the school. The students no longer attend school for gifts and treats, but because they want to learn.
Today, it is called the Samarpan School. The founder, teachers and volunteers are still as dedicated to their goal as they were the day the school started. They are hopeful to spread the message of ‘giving’ unconditionally and believe that many will follow in their footsteps and help eradicate illiteracy in India. The school also hopes that more people volunteer their time and money to help the school to grow. After all the future of India lies in the hands of the children of today.
For information & donations please contact Mrs. Jayati Malkani. Mob. No. 09820075444.
- By OCOW Diarist – Mahima Dhruv Malkani