By: Khaalid Naik
Where do you think the basic foundation as a human truly begins? Is it at your home, your school, or within society?
It’s not a difficult question to answer; it’s undeniably your home. However, that is the education of your dignity. The education for your higher degree, on the other hand, typically starts at school.
If education is meant to be open to all, then why is it not accessible without discrimination?
Now, the answer becomes more difficult, right?
But can we, collectively, break through this barrier of difficulty? Absolutely, yes. But how?
First, we must educate ourselves through the experiences of others and then embark on our journey to make changes.
I am introducing you to some exceptional individual mentors who have dedicated their lives to educating and contributing to achieving a 360-degree literate world. Whether it’s financial literacy or educating blind people, you need to understand how each small drop of contribution can create a sea of change in lives.
Unsung heroes making the way to achieving universal literacy
Have you ever distributed stationery items and books to children? Let me introduce you to Omar.
Omar Hafiz is a young development practitioner, the founder of The STEARS made your step into an educated and responsible society. He started his journey in the social sector in the school itself, by distributing stationery items and books among the children of the slum in his neighborhood and fundraising for the Red Cross. Since then he never stopped himself from his good deed.
Omar believes that a lack of resources is not a barrier to working in society. Omar continues to work on significant issues affecting youth, education, peace, and communities, for which he has received numerous awards from the social development area.
Omar’s group, The STEARS, strives to develop adaptable leadership in kids to bring about social change and community development by remaking education. Children were given game boxes through his charity, The STEARS, in cooperation with Anthill Creations, which encouraged them to learn through games and DIY activities, supporting holistic education.
The STEARS also worked in the field of women’s empowerment through a collaborative program with the BG Foundation in which girls from underserved communities were given smartphones and lessons in leadership, communication, self-expression and confidence, financial literacy, legal literacy, digital literacy, and health and nutrition.
Sometimes, our life’s path takes an unexpected turn. Have you ever noticed?
Meet Arpna Chandil who worked as a journalist for well-known news organizations and now operates the ‘Kitab Ghar’ library and school in Chenab Valley, founder of the NGO Sahas.
She gave up her career in the media to educate youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir. When she started to educate children, she was a producer in Hindi media. Then came the worst blow to children’s education, COVID-19 19. She knew she had to take action.
She quickly converted her ancestral home into a library known as ‘Kitab Ghar’. She enlisted the assistance of a friend and brought books from all over the world. Soon she got approval for primary school in Chenab Valley. This is how her life’s path took an unexpected turn for the better.
“We need to change the perspective, and also the manner in which things were happening till now to make our educational system a success” – Arpna Chandail.
Have you ever wondered why access to education is so challenging in rural areas?
The answer is simple. Due to limited resources, infrastructure, and fewer schools, it is difficult for students to access quality education.
Sabbah Haji was brought up in Dubai her family was still connected to their hometown, a village in Jammu and Kashmir. Sabbah and her family put the school together brick by brick. The process began with two rooms at her house that were converted into classes, and we have been growing ever since. Sabbah’s story is truly inspirational to all of us.
“Literacy is very very important for everyone and it’s a human right.” – Sabbah Haji.
In her region, the educational system is so bad that even if there are teachers and public schools in rural communities, there is still no education. The most terrifying aspect is that generations of people are leaving school and still not being educated.
J&K is a place where parents are not so eager for their children to have an education, which prompted Sabbah to donate to the community. People are beginning to recognize that education is a stepping stone. After building a school, she recognized the importance of girls’ education, but they faced obstacles like gender bias.
To address this, she and her mother implemented a policy where boys could only enroll if their sisters also attended. Additionally, they offered free education for girls if 2 to 3 siblings from the same family enrolled in the school. Thus, her contribution lets girls be one step closer to wiser sunshine.
Siva Swamy and Mahalakshmi
“We realized that the children of daily wage earners who attend government schools have no one to help them with their schoolwork” – Mr. Siva Swamy.
This statement highlights the urgent need for education among underprivileged children and serves as the driving force behind the retired couple from Coimbatore’s Pachapalayam, Mr. Siva Swamy, and his beloved wife, Mrs. Mahalashmi.
“They don’t understand what’s being taught in school and can’t complete their homework, so they dread going to school” – Siva Swamy & Mahalakshmi.
Their assertion accurately reflects the current situation we observe around us. How?
Sometimes, we unknowingly prioritize teaching skills over fulfilling learning purposes. This means that the right path in education can help us learn and improve, even when there are negative things around us. It’s like a bright light that can help us see and do better, no matter what happens in our world.
However, to eradicate the bottom line of negative educational discrimination concept, this self-motivated couple founded an NGO named “Kalvi Thunai” with zero-fee education to help underprivileged students from class 4 to class 12 with their initial self-investment of 40 lakhs.
Their efforts mainly covered homework completion, and student support in every difficulty, whether it be understanding topics or guidance in holistic development through extracurricular activities.
But do you think the way is so simple? It’s a big no.
Because putting efforts into pushing those students into the mainstream of growth is the most challenging part. However, they gradually overcome this challenge by doing student counseling and making things accessible and enjoyable for each of them. They also helped students progress to higher classes, from class 10 to 12, and surprisingly achieved a cent percent passing record.
Despite facing new challenges due to technological advancements, they adapted and used the power of digital media to progress. Kalvi Thunai continues to eradicate darkness with the rainbow of inspiring educational progress.
Constable Than Singh
Have you ever tried to teach children of those who are putting great effort into making your daily lives easier?
Well, I’m talking about those poverty-stricken people who migrated in search of a simple piece of bread, and for that, they toil tirelessly day after day to provide us with a life free from stress.
If you’re still unaware, consider the living example of Constable Mr. Than Singh, who runs ‘Than ki Pathshala’ within a temple courtyard inside the Red Fort parking lot, catering especially to the children of migrant laborers and giving his contribution to helping slum kids in escaping from crimes and labor.
“A small effort, a small belief, and a small purpose for these children so that they can also find their way to the right path. Let us all take this step forward” – Mr. Than Singh.
Yes, this statement is very true. If you, too, can make a simple contribution like him, to help slum children rise above the poverty line of education and uplift society as a whole.
You have the opportunity to contribute a portion of your wealth to this foundation and become a part of the crowd-funding effort that has transformed it from initially serving just 3 to 4 children to now educating over 80 students, molding them into intellectuals and solicitors of a brighter future.
Principle Deepmala Pandey
“It all started with Anmol, a special child whom I enrolled in my school with five years ago. He suffers from Amnesia and is mute. Naturally, he had severe limitations with learning. But after engaging with him for a while, feeling his affection for myself, and witnessing the remarkable improvement he started showing, I felt determined to do something for other children facing similar challenges” – Deepmala.
That spark ignited the flame of inner goodness in Principal Deepmala Pandey, driving her to provide inclusive education for over 800+ specially-abled children.
Do you need a similar motivational spark? Look around you!
However, Anmol became the inspiration for this 40-year-old woman when Anmol’s mother claimed astonishing improvement in him. This is where it all began, with the confident Deepmala attempting to reach children like Anmol in neighboring villages.
And now, the challenge? What do you think it could be?
“Initially, the parents used to be reluctant. It seemed like they had given up on their special child and found it inconsequential to send them to school. They even feared other children harassing their kids. But eventually, I managed to convince them” – Deepmala.
Yes, it happens. Why? Because people like you and me, who are considered normal, often fail to accept those who are physically or intellectually limited and sometimes treat them as if they are untouchable. And this thought alone is enough to create hesitation and fear in the hearts of parents of specially challenged individuals.
However, their talent is a god-given gift that can be unbeatable if we, like Deepmala, take small steps and do as she did earlier. She used social media for a special cause and gathered 450 like-minded teachers to educate these 800 children.
So, I hope now you understand that not every time you need to have a special degree like Deepmala to contribute, but you can treat these children as normal ones.
Are you a financially literate individual? Surprised!
Well, having bookish knowledge or a highly qualified degree is not everything. If you truly consider yourself educated, then financial literacy should also be a part of your knowledge.
I know you’re wondering why I’m discussing this now. Okay, let’s get straight to the point. A 17-year-old entrepreneur named Kashvi Jindal runs ‘Invest The Change’, a Gurugram-based social enterprise aimed at educating underprivileged individuals and those from rural backgrounds.
Isn’t this amazing? In this digital era, here’s our young person who has risen above the attraction of social media engagement and made an offline connection with needy people, especially after witnessing and understanding the financial difficulties that have severely affected lower-middle-class individuals, those below the poverty line, and blue-collar workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think women, in general, are very hesitant to enter this field because it is largely male-dominated. However, I believe that gaining more knowledge about financial literacy is crucial for everyone, every single person out there, especially women, as they are often left in the dark about financial expenses. To gain more control over your life, you need to be financially independent” – Kashvi.
If you are the breadwinner in your family, then it’s essential to invest every penny of your hard-earned money after careful consideration, whether it’s your expenses for basic needs or your savings after fulfilling all daily living requirements.
This teenager, Kashvi, plays the role of a teacher to ensure that others don’t need to beg for financial help and become wiser when it comes to investment. Her father, Mr. Gaurav Jindal, and the volunteers from her institute play a crucial role in supporting her ambitions in every way.
If you also join hands with individuals like her, you never know, you might become the reason to bring light into someone’s home and put a smile on the faces of all family members.
Annie’ is not just the name of a Braille device; it’s an emotion that touches the pure hearts of blind children.
Before I talk about Annie’s contribution, let me share a short story behind it. It was 2014 when Sanskriti Dawle and Aman Srivastava, students of BITS Pilani in Goa, were working on a project called Project Mudra, which was Annie’s predecessor, along with the co-founders of Tinkerbell Labs.
During their work, they realized that this Braille alphabet project was more than just a student project. Later, they all joined together to continue the legacy of Braille education, with Anne Sullivan Macy serving as their mentor.
Technically, in April 2016, during an event for the awardees of the Great Tech Rocketship by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton publicly interacted with Annie. At the VIEW Conference in Birmingham, UK, in March 2018, Annie was introduced to the world.
Annie is a teaching device that revolutionizes the traditional approach to classroom education for blind students. It not only makes their learning fun and engaging but also reduces the burden on trained teachers, providing an exceptional and effective educational experience. Annie, the device, encompasses every aspect of student engagement, from hardware and software to content.
Annie is helping more than hundreds of blind children globally, especially in India, the UK, and the UAE, by facilitating reading, writing, typing, and gaming interactions. The marvelous technology of Annie has elevated Braille’s learning to a state-of-the-art level, making India proud on the global stage once again.
Are You Ready To Join Hands To Bring Changes In The Society?
Please don’t look around; look within yourself. If you are reading this article and find my suggestion valuable, then please make this mantra your motivational quote:
Learn more, dream more, inspire more, share knowledge, let your actions speak, and illuminating not just the inside of your home but also the society outside.
Furthermore, stay in touch to share your story with THE ANTS, join hands with us, let your story be heard, and become a mentor for generations today and tomorrow.