A bustling Mumbai suburb, Sakinaka bundles corporate offices, restaurants and banks with warrens of shanties which lakhs of underprivileged people call their home. In these squalid shanties grow up thousands of children who cannot afford to go to formal schools.
In the slums of Sakinaka, an NGO working quietly for the education of these underprivileged children for years is an emblem of hope. It works to ensure that the basic right of a slum child is protected in a country where well-off parents splurge lakhs every year for good schooling of their wards.
Deprived Child & You, the NGO, began working in the area 14 years ago. It all started with the passion and philanthropic zeal of a lone man- Mr. N.P. Mishra. He wanted to change the life of these children who either beg on the streets or engage themselves in petty jobs for a few bucks.
When Mr. Mishra started the NGO, he was inspired by his conversation with the kids who expressed their desire to study.
Starting off with only five kids from the vicinity of Sakinaka slum with his meagre resources, Mr. Mishra toiled hard, spent all his savings and sacrificed many other comforts of life to set up the NGO.
He even gave up his corporate job for the work. He spent his Provident Fund to build a two-classroom school that soon came alive with interested students.
Moved by his dedication, corporate houses later came forward with donations.
Today Deprived Child & You has come a long way. It now has 250 students studying from first to tenth standard in the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial School run by the NGO. The school, which boasts of qualified teachers, is unaided and self-funded.
The curriculum followed is in tune with the syllabus laid down by the Education Department of the Government of India.
All the books, bags and other articles and facilities required for schooling are provided free of cost to these children.
The NGO also offers scholarships and organizes free study camp which has benefitted thousands of students till date.
Asked why he started a school and not a supportive education programme, Mr Mishra said: “We should provide food to the whole stomach. Any supplementary education programme cannot achieve what a complete academic education can.”
Deprived Child & You primarily helps children who are orphans or are responsibilities of single parents besides destitute and economically backward kids. They are initially brought to the Child Development Centre for counselling and then based on assessment admitted in various standards in the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial School.
Their work has been noted by various international, national organizations and affluent people keen to donate for poor children.
It is affiliated in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations besides the UNICEF. The NGO also works with Mumbai Police and Government of Maharashtra.
“We have donors who visit our class unannounced once or twice a year to interact with the children. They have been supporting us for almost nine years now,” says Mr. Mishra.
Words of praise and good wishes also come from people like India’s former President K. R. Narayanan.
Deprived Child & You personifies the clichéd but seldom followed adage: When there is a will, there is a way.
For more information, visit www.deprivedchild.org
: : by Thryza Dow : :
[Pictures courtesy: Deprived Child & You]