During Covid-19, youngsters help the less fortunate

In the time of Covid-19, youngsters help the less fortunate

Rishika at a door-to-door campaign; (Top) Manas conducts online classes.

The present generation kids are often called an entitled lot, lacking empathy and showing scant respect for society and elders. But what many fail to notice is that these young people, despite a privileged upbringing, are compassionate to the less fortunate; they are starry-eyed about their future, yet are grounded with a deep desire to give back to society.

Aasha Infinite Foundation (AIF), an NGO that conducts various English and Kannada language programmes for children from low-income families, has a few dedicated, young interns working for them. Rishika Patil, a Class 12 student, has always loved teaching, and when she saw an opportunity with AIF, she immediately signed up. Assisted by her mentor Kanthi Meda, she visited the local government school in her free time and started tutoring four students who were struggling with their studies.

A teacher’s job is never an easy one, especially when dealing with children who come from diverse backgrounds. In her interaction with these students, Rishika displayed a great deal of maturity, her mentor acknowledges. 

Meera Raman, founder of AIF, says, " Education goes beyond textbooks and the academic syllabus. The society needs more humane leaders who can turn adversity into opportunites."

Like the education sector as a whole, the reading programme at Aasha Infinite Foundation was forced to adapt to the change thrust upon it by the Covid-19 pandemic. The organisation transformed a classroom programme to an online model where the teacher worked one-on-one with students over WhatsApp and a phone call. However, other niggling issues remained. 

Connecting a student to an available teacher and recording the students' progress was a cumbersome task. The coordinators struggled to collate the information scattered across a number of WhatsApp groups. That’s when another young intern Manas Bam, a Class 11 student jumped in with his expertise.

Manas Bam, a student of Bethany High School, is developing a portal App for AIF that will be compatible with both iOS and android phones. 

This portal will automate data for teachers, enabling them to assign students based on the mutual availability and also record assessments, storing all data under a single roof. 

Manas has been conducting free workshops—ranging from Origami and solving the Rubik’s cube to complex programming—during his school vacations. 

When his exams were cancelled, he conducted Python programming classes — which he mastered on his own — for students in his apartment complex and donated the entire proceeds to the Covid-19 relief fund. 

The current situation of lockdown and uncertainty has been a great leveller and underscores how life isn't just about scoring high grades or graduating out of top schools.