Shuruaat, began its journey with the dream of providing education to the unfortunate amongst us who do not even understand the meaning or importance of education, but it is them who need it the most. A group of youngsters had this dream to reform education and Shuruaat is paving path for others to follow in this field.
It all started around 1.5 years back, when a group of students decided to start free tuition classes for the kids of "Harinagar Basti" slum located on the banks of Sangam in Allahabad. Allahabad's Sangam is famous as the confluence of 3 rivers, two major ones, the Ganga and Yamuna and the third which was mythical but yet very important in India, Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati being synonymous with education in India.
Whenever Abhishek Shukla used to stop at the road crossing near the slum, he got to meet the kids of the slum and they would either ask for money or were collecting scrap material from the roadside. To qoute Abhishek: "Whenever I saw them, I always used to think and hope for doing something for them, but it used to pass usually being busy in my life. But one day,a meeting at the signal changed the course of my life, push me into not just dreaming, hoping and thinking but actually doing something. That meeting was with a 7 year old girl, who after bit of conversation,informed about her mothers demise and that she was single handedly taking care of her younger brother. Initially I doubted her statement and thought she might be lying for money and decided to go along to her home in order to confirm the story. The experience I must say was quite shocking and beyond what I was expecting from what we usually know for a slum .It was stinking so much that it was difficult,even to breathe. But the bright spot in all this time was that all the kids nearby surrounded me hoping that I have got something for them.I started interacting and asked them whether they go to school, there was an emphatic NO, I looked towards their parents who had also gathered by now. Parents response was quite shocking, but practical that when they had no money even for food, how could they even think about school? Among the kids, were many girls, who wanted to study but had never got the opportunity to do so.
After muchthought,I took the decision, exactly the one which I wanted to for quite sometime and informed the children that I would teach them from tomorrow. The next day when I reached there with pencil, pen and books, I could see the joy on their faces. It made me think that these children are more hungry for learning than food itself. The date is stamped in my memory, 19th September 2016, it gave me the confidence that education is the only medium through which the present condition of their lives could be improved. As I got to know them more, they started sharing their ambitions and I was so glad to hear that there were aspirations to be doctors, engineers and even dancers. The surroundings were not at all conducive for teaching, the stink was un-bearable, there was frequent interruption by stray animals and lot of other disturbances . Inspite of all this, the kids were enthusiastic enough to enjoy the class. I started to publish these photographs on social media which inspired many of my friends interested and few of them also started volunteering to take a few classes. Some of them are Pravar Kumar Tripathi, Shalini Yadav , Aditya Soni, Abhishek Yadav, Siddharth Kumar Pathak, Preeti Singh, Nitin Shukla, Sobhit Shukla, Anurag Kumar and Vikash Shukla. Many others contributed by helping with the much required stationery. Most of the volunteers, were students and not financially independent, yet the zeal to make a difference and the infectious enthusiasm of the kids kept us going.
This had an overall positive impact all around the slum and many parents too also started to be part of the classes.Some mothers, agingbetween 30 to 60 also started joining us for classes. One of those special one is 70 year old Radha Dadi, who attends our classes regularly much to our surprise.
True to the name of Shuruaat, we decided to begin classes in all the slums of Allahabad. Presently we are running our free classes in the slums of Harinagar near CMP college, Shobatiabagh near Sangam Petrol Pump and Balson Crossing on footpath With help of these 3 classes we are able to educate around 100 kids daily. After initial challenges,we were also able to enroll 20 girls to a school in this accedemic session, these children had never gone to school earlier. Conducting classes in three places within 1 year of Shuruaat was quite satisfactory.
A decision right from the beginning was that our effort will not be just to have these children to be able to read and write but to give the best quality education as possible. The results of this decision is quite visible to us, Neha our Student has cleared her 10th with 70% marks. Another important development was that we did not restrict these classes to children but extended it to the women in the slum, their participation is very encouragingwith likes of Radha Dadi being our motivation boosters.
An important learning for us was that despite all the constraints, the children in the slums were equally talented and the only difference from the more lucky ones was that talent here was hidden. One such example is Aman, who always dream to become a dancer from the age of 7, and after he had got a bit older he was taking dance classes for the children in the slum. Because of Aman's effort and the children's performance and potential we were able to get 10 kids enrolled in the best Aatamjeet Singh Dance Institute of Allahabad who also helped us to participate exempting the fees. When these kids performed at a function of Allahabad university, everyone in the audience were pleasantly shocked and this news was covered in many newspapers.
Most of the kids who were earlier, either begging or collecting scrap are now part of Shuruaat.Our only aim is to identify their talent and provide them with right direction.