Yesterday evening, “Ek Koshish, One Attempt” commenced its newest project: tutoring a group of women and children from slum areas of Faridabad, Delhi NCR! We began our classes with five students, whose names are Mohini (about 22 years old), Nancy (about 11 years old), Badal (about 3+ years old), Vicky (about 4+ years old), and Ajay (about 4+ years old). They come from such poor backgrounds, such that nobody keeps track of their birthdays or ages, which is why we have to approximate their ages. The eldest, Mohini, wanting to escape from her miserable lifestyle, would never like her son, Ajay to be illiterate at any cost either, which is why she came with her son to our orientation program. The others, Nancy, Badal, and Vicky, whose parents, like Mohini, remain busy throughout the day, unable to keep track of their children because of their work. Even Nancy, at such a young age (about 11), forcibly had to adopt a maid’s job in Faridabad, by visiting different homes to sweep houses, mop floors, and wash dishes. Because of her work, we have to arrange the classes in the evening, so that she can continue to support her family. It is heartbreaking for us to witness such a young child with the responsibilities of an adult; but we are working towards teaching her not only to read and write in Hindi and English, but also some to teach her professional skills geared towards her interests, so that she may one day respectfully earn and support herself and her family independently. Mohini and Nancy shamefully admitted that they had never learned how to read or write, not even the first Hindi character in our “prathmik gyan” (a phrase that roughly translates to “alphabet” in English), which inspired them to seek help from us. As we conversed with them, we learned that they wholeheartedly want to come out of their cursed lives and gain respect via education and sharpened professional skills. We feel that they will pick up the subjects quickly, because of this immense interest in learning, to better themselves along with society. To give more background about the other students, the boys, for the most part, spend their days wandering aimlessly and even playing in dangerous, sometimes life-threatening areas, where nobody pays attention to safety or hygienic needs. The three boys don’t take baths regularly and are unaware about how to use toothbrushes for cleaning their teeth: we observed that their teeth were in poor conditions, having bad odor and yellow to even some black teeth. With their hygiene as a top priority, we decided to provide them with necessities, i.e. toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, clothes, shoes, toys, and even sports equipment, which would be required for their all around development in the future. During our long chat with them, we found them to be quite interested in these ideas, should such amenities and facilities be provided to them. We have purchased study material for the children to use to practice their alphabets (English and Hindi), drawing and stenciling exercise books, initial textbooks, and school bags for each of the students. We have purchased sports equipments like badminton and table tennis (or what people call “Ping pong” in the US), and we shall introduce them to various games for their recreation and physical fitness. We believe that games always play an important role in building one’s character and personality.
Otherwise, once we introduced ourselves and explained that we wanted to work with them as often as possible, offering chocolates, candies, and biscuits to the children during our classes, the elder children understood that our interest was in preparing them for their own successful futures. We began our lessons with Hindi and English counting: In the beginning they showed no interest, but later on, when we introduced the element of sweets as positive reinforcement, they took an interest in practicing counting. It was amazing to see that they started pronouncing English and Hindi numbers clearly and promised us to come regularly to our classes. At the end of the lesson, we taught days of the week in Hindi and English. We could easily detect their joy in hearing themselves pronouncing these foreign, English words. Hesitant and a little shy in the beginning, the children soon opened up and enjoyed the lesson, especially as they savored the sweets with which we rewarded them. When we asked them about their ambitions in the future, it was surprising to us to hear that Badal wanted to become a pilot, and others too wanted to operate trains and drive big cars. Their dreams emotionalized us to a greater extent. We wish that all of our students grow into great, honorable people in the future. We anticipate that we will have a class of eight or more students from tomorrow onward, as we expect other students from similar backgrounds. We will give more updates about our progress in the mission as we continue with our “Ek Koshish, One Attempt.”