Making a big difference

Helping hand

Making a big difference
While the other people their age prefer to go to malls and movies during the weekends, a group of youngsters wants to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children residing at a slum in Vasanthnagar (near Alliance Francaise). 

It all started when Saurabh Jain and Harsh Desai, along with two of their friends who were studying at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India would see these children outside their college.
 
“They were always playing in sewage water, scratching people’s cars and getting shouted at,” informs Saurabh. 

“So we thought of helping them financially and approached one of the parents,” recalls Harsh. But they were told that finance wasn’t a problem as education in government schools is free.
 
“The problem for the kids was to go to school in the first place. With each house having four to five kids, many had to babysit their siblings. In fact, some would go to school just for the mid-day meals and come back,” explains Saurabh. 

Hence, the group thought of teaching them in their free time. And that’s how Kadam Foundation came into being in December 2011. 
 
The group meets every weekend without fail and teaches English and Maths. 

“We have around 150 members out of which, 20 to 25 of them turn up every weekend on an average,” explains Harsh. 

Once in two months, they have fun sessions like pot painting, diya painting or an outing for the kids. 
 
“When we started, out of the 50 kids, only three or four used to go to school but now, at least 15 of them go,” he adds. 
 
The feat didn’t come without its fair share of challenges. 

“The first challenge was how to teach them itself as none of us is a trained teacher. Then we received help from a teacher working in an international school who would review the children’s performance,” says Saurabh. 

The next challenge was the attitude of the kids. 
 
“Earlier, for everything they would say, nange baralla (I can’t do it). So getting them out of that mindset was really tough. But today, they can do anything and we feel really good,” he adds.
 
Kadam Foundation is full of youngsters — both students and professionals — brimming with ideas. And these voluntary teachers say that the experience has changed their lives. 
 
Rashmi Shamprasad, a financial analyst at Tesco, joined the group over a year ago. 

“After a hectic week at work, teaching these children is a stress-buster. It’s really important for everyone to understand that kids need to study rather than work,” she notes. 

Patience is one of the many things that she has learnt, she says. “I have learnt to think of others before me. And I feel so good when the kids call me Rashmi akka to clarify their doubts,” she adds.
 
The youngsters have many plans for the kids. 
 
“We want to instill a seed of curiosity in them so that they have the enthusiasm to learn wherever they are. They should know that there is a life beyond the slums,” explains Saurabh.

The group also plans to enrol the children into private schools with the help of donors and is working on training them for the same.
 
Anyone with a passion to teach can join the group, informs Harsh. 

“The kids are aged between three and 12 years. So we either teach them on a one-on-one basis or divide them into categories according to their level of understanding,” he adds. 

All one has to do is be present outside the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India near Alliance Francaise during the weekends. 

While on Saturdays, the group meets between 2.30 pm and 5 pm, on Sundays, it meets between 10 am and 12.30 pm.
 
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/kadamfoundation

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