New Delhi - October - December 2000
Mr.Ajay Khanna, is a sponsor parent, sponsoring Anita Yadav, since 1995. Mr.Khanna has been sponsoring Anita whenshe was in IIIrd standard. Today Anita is studying in VIIIstd.
The support has meant her to look beyond from deprivation and denial of childhood.
Mr.Khanna in his recent letter for Anita and we quote a line "Life battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. The one, sooner or later wins is the one who knows he can so study hard, keep your spirit high and remember you will get from life what ever you ask for".
We had met Mr.Ajay Khanna in his office recently to have his views on ow individual contribution can bring a lasting change.
Mr.Khanna, introduced himself, "I am Ajay Khanna, I work for DLF Universal Limited, In the year 1995, I lost my mother, I am a strong believer of God but I have little faith on rituals. I feel when people get involved in the rituals they are guided more by emotional mind than rational mind. Perhaps my rational mind directed me to take up sponsorship of a Girl Child, I felt, this could be the best way I could make my mothers memory fulfillling and ever lasting".
He went on further to explain how each individual can be a support to a cause, "One cannot be in the water, and at the same time do not let the feet get wet, so I feel each individual should look at life in a broader sense and support the cause of less privileged. I remember Tagore's Kabuliwala in which he mentions how one can generate immense happiness by supporting less fortunate. Today one may access organizational funds but Individual Contribution which comes from ones heart brings genuine feeling".
"We, I mean every body at my home are keen to know about Anita. We await the reports from Deepalaya which arrives periodically about Anita's performance in studies, health report and about her family".
When asked what would he like to convey to the readers through this column he said for the forthcoming festive season, "bring the light of happiness to lives of underprivileged. If you are already a sponsor tell your friends that here is an organization, where systems work and how so ever small your contribution may be you get satisfying report and above all in simple words Deepalaya is a clean organization. Tell them here is a cause worth supporting!"
Balram the Great!
This is how Deepalaya child, Balram describes himself, quite rightly so because despite odds he has made everyone proud by his resounding performance in Xth standard examination by scoring 82% marks.
We had encountered Balram in Deepalaya School, where Balram had to come to participate in an Essay competition.
Q. Congratulations, What does this success mean to you?
A. Its amazing! But I didn't achieve it all on my own. My family and Deepalaya have an equal role in enabling to clear the first academic challenge of my career.
Sir, belong to extreme remote part of Nepal, place called Thamghas in Gulmi Zilla. Till class IInd, I studied in the village school, but you know our priorities were directed to the fulfillment of basic needs like food and shelter. People in the village consider education a luxury.
We were forced to migrate to Delhi, in our quest to find an existence of survival. But despite many odds my family has stood by me and my siblings and educated us to assure a better future. So this success is a dream come true and I feel its a satisfying experience having overcome the hardships.
Q. Do you remember about your childhood?
A. Yes! My father Shri Om Bahadur did not have any permanent job, so he is to roam from one place to another in search of employment. Me, my mother and my elder sister used to stay in the village. I still remember, I used to cut grass and collect logs to cook food.
When I was 7 years or 8 years, we came to Delhi, I wouldn't forget the first couple of nights in Delhi when we had no place to go other than the railways platform.
My father got a casual job in a Telephone project, so we were given a tent to stay. We were into terrible financial crunch at that time. My mother later started working as a domestic help.
For a while I also worked in a tea stall, but our course of life took a better tum when a family where my mother worked accepted us and gave us the garage to stay. They took interest in educating me. On 12th July, 1992 I was admitted to Deepalaya School in class IInd.
Q. No one but you can tell us about Deepalaya and how has it empowered you to restore your childhood?
A. Instantly he picked up a paper on which he was writing an essay on a topic, "What does Deepalaya mean to me and my family?" and read out some excerpts from the essay:
Deepalaya is a combination of two words 'Deep' and 'Alayam', In itself it is significant. It means 'House of Light'. Its motto is to enable a child to look beyond slums. Well, it is the school which is the first social institution for me. Deepalaya School was first and continues to be my inspiration which has developed my personality.
He went further to tell that in Deepalaya besides the basic education, children are given opportunities to do lot of extra curricular activiites. The institution has supported my family also. A sewing machien was provided to the families to enhance their income.
Q. Tell us about your ambition?
A. Till now ai do not have a specific ambition. As such now a days it is a matter of money which decides the vocation one chooses. However I wish to sit for IAS examination.
Q. Did you enjoy being in Deepalaya School?
A. Without Deepalaya, the teachers and my fellow classmates life could have been quite different. Teachers share a closer rapport with the students and are extra caring since many of us have spent a childhood filled with deprivation and exploitation.
From this school, I got the chance to travel from Delhi to Agra by an aeroplane. It was like a dram! Though I did not know how to dance, I took part in cultural programmes. I tried to put in my best! This brought fruits when I was selected to be a part of sixty member group which visited Holland. We stayed in Holland for 25 days. Those were the best days of my life.
Q. What keeps you occupied other than studies?
A. During this summer vacation I did a basic course in Computers from Deepalaya Vocational School. Besides I like to play cricket and football, watch movies and listen to popular film music. Also love reading books.
Q. Tell us about your parents?
A. My father is a casual labourer and he also washes cars. My mother works as domestic help. Interestingly both of them have not seen the light of education in their lives but they are keen in educating us. My elder sister is getting married soon and both my brothers are studying in school.
My parents have made sacrifices in giving us a sheltered life and in making our childhood filled with fun and games despite problems in making both ends meet.
In the end Balram had a big smile on his face and the spontaneous utterance was, "do you know who has made Balram the great! My parents, the family who gave us shelter and Deepalaya".
Guddan's Search for a Potential
Disability is considered a curse! Persons with disabilities lead a life behind the closed doors. For girls with disability is much more than a curse, it means facing dual discrimination. According to National sample survey of 1991, out of 32 million disabled women in India, only 2% are literate.
Our society tends to consciously or unconsciously harbour biases towards disability which is coming in the way of mainstraming efoorts. As a result, the group has been virtually left out.
Children with disabilities require tender and proper care and should not be exposed to harsh and cruel tratments as witnessed so frequently. They too have a right to live with dignity and honour, like other do.
We introduce you to Guddan, 18 year old girl who refuses to be overlooked and left out. Guddan's search for a future of potential began in early infancy when following a high fever, she was struck by polio in both legs. We recently encountered Guddan in her house in Gandhi Basti, where the family stays with four daughters and two sons.
Her father, is a vegetable vendor and mother stays at home, together they have taken up the challenge to confront poverty and cope with social stigma attached to disability.
Q. Guddan, what makes you so popular in the 'mohallah' (locality)?
A. I don't know what makes me popular but in my quest for a normal life, it is very important for me not to be drawn into a shell. So I like cultivating close bonds wiht others. In the evenings often I move out and talk to my friends about school, moviews, songs and the best part is when we play 'Antakshari' (a game which involves singing popular Hindi film music).
I give due respect to elders in my locality and I strongly believe one shouldn't shy away from reality but should face life coping with inequities with self esteem and honour.
Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. I am very independent, I spend lot of time with my friends and siblings but despite that I enjoy being alone for sometime because that helps me to recharge my batteries.
Q. Anything you would like to change about yourself and people around you?
A. I wish, I could have continued with my studies, I really miss my 'childhood' and 'school'. I still remember those enjoyable moments at Deepalaya, Sanjay Colony School but then I didn't have the right support at home. But today I am happy for my sister, Chaman who despite being physically challenged goes to school and thanks to the Almighty and Deepalaya. Today my parents realize how parental support can help their daughters to triumph over the odds.
In the slums often girl child leads a life of oppression and has slender chances of being educated. I wish people realise that Girl Child should be nurtured to handle life as it gives them space for forging a desired future. In the slums much more than elsewhere discrimination against the girl child is particularly high. I wish various myths on disability are voercome. I feel disturbed that children with disability, still lead a life of deprivation and if the families are poor, like mine we encounter prejudice and are denied the simplest need of our lives.
Q. How do you se your 'future'?
A. Today I know I am not alone, I have Deepalaya which has given me exposure and gave me confidence to take the world on my own.
Shortly, I would get trained in a skill and find a meaningful occupation with the help of Deepalaya.
Q. Where do you see Deepalaya in your search for potential?
A. Deepalaya provided me opportunity to attain functional literacy. If my parents today are taking interest in sending my siblings to school, it is because fo the animation of Deepalaya social workers who almost daily visit my home.
They have mae my parents realize the importance of education. Yes, in my quest for potential Deepalaya has been my constant companion, I participated in most of the events and competitions Deepalaya organized. I always liked to move out of the four walls, interact with the outside world. Largely Deepalaya has fulfilled this wish of mine. They organise educational and recreational trips and I don't let these opportunities go!
Q. What has been your achievement?
A. I think, I have miles to go. When I achieve what I often dream, I often dream of being a working girl, who leads an independent life, takes my own decisions and go give parents and siblings whatever support, I can.
Q. Tell us about some of your likings?
A. Movies, I really enjoy watching movies particularly one's in which Salman Khan is featured. Whenever I feel let down by the world I listen to sad songs of Mukesh. These songs help me recognise myself, to take on the world on my own.
Oh, yes I forgot! I am very fond of dressing up. I like to look beautiful!
Inauguration of Dental Camp By Euphoria Group
"Health is wealth". This philosophy was manifest at the inauguration ceremony of a Dental Camp. The camp was organised by Deepalaya - in association with Punjab National Bank. This was inaugurated, by lead singer Dr.Palash Sen with other members of Euphoria, the rock group, at Maharishi Dayanand Camp, Chanakyapuri on 15th September 2000 in the presence of Mr.Nayak, Chief Manager, Punjab National Bank and Mr.Y.K.Gupta, Branch Manager, Punjab National Bank, Chanakyapuri. Speaking on the occasion, Dr.Sen, who is a practicing physician besides being a lead singer of Euphoria, called for a movement for Health Awareness among underprivileged sections. He also thanked Deepalaya and PNB (Punjab National Bank) for providing him and his group members an opportunity to be associated with a cause.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr.Nayak said this support to Deepalaya is an extension of PNB's Social Commitment. The inauguration ceremony also witnessed colourful cultural programme which won rounds of applause. The other members of Euphoria Benny Pinto, D.J.Bhadhuri, Hitesh Madan and Gaurav Misra also shared their happiness for providing maiden experience of its kind, being among the less privileged.
The camp was attended by 196 patients who were treated for dental ailments.
This camp and the ones to follow are supported by Punjab National Bank, fulfilling the banks commitment to Social Welfare.
British Telecom Fulfilling their Social Vision
If NGO's pursue a mission and performs functions that are valuable to society, if they communicate their success to the public business houses, corporates and the Govt. would be responsive.
The above fact was reinforced on 31st August 2000, when the telecom giant British Telecom came forward once again to help Deepalaya.
A donation of 1600 Pound Sterling was handed over in a simple function heald at the Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extension, by Mr.Bimal Rath (HR Alliance Director) to Mr.A.J.Philip (President, Deepalaya) in the presence of BT employees and staff and children and staff of Deepalaya. This contribution was the result of a collective effort of 8 members of the BT-Human Resource Team. With this amount the education of 7 children have been sponsored at the Deepalaya School.
Welcoming the distinguished guests Mr.Philip pointed out that the mission of Deepalaya would have remained far short of its targets if we had not got support from society at large. He expressed his happiness at the fact that today Business Houses are not operating in isolation and are increasingly realizing their social responsibility and are coming forward to help NGO's. Mr.Rath in his brief address, underlined that each time he visits Deepalaya he has been impressed by the wide range of talents exhibited by the children. He congratulated Deepalaya for its tremendous contribution and exhorted the children to make maximum use of the opportunities provided by Deepalaya.
Deepalaya-Charms Greeting Card's Launch
With changing times philanthropic organisations are awakening to the hard truth that they can no longer depend only on donations to expand their services. Today the catch word is trade and not just aid.
The concept of business with a social cause was depicged at the launching ceremony of Deeplaya-Charms Greeting Cards. The cards were launched at a glittering function by noted actress and activist Ms.Shabana Azmi on 23rd August, 2000.
Shabana ji congratulated both the partners and said, "when concerned citizens join together much can be done", she went further to reveal, "Deepalaya was one of the first organization that I got associated with when I came to Delhi". She went on to express that civil society must assume greater responsibility, in safeguarding rights of Girl Child.
Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary and Chief Executive while welcoming Ms.Azmi, Emphasized that this venture means business but with a purpose. A purpose to raise funds to ensure quality of life for children who are deprived of their childhood especially the girl child.
Mr.Pawan Verma, celebrated author and diplomat drew the attention with statistical figures of the sorry situation of girl child belonging to poor families. He called for an organized effort to deal with the problem. Ms.Manpreet Brar, the beauty ambassador of India, seconded this view.
The Managing Director of Charms Cards Mr.Sanjeev Arora expressed his happiness being associated with Deepalaya. The students of Deepalaya School presented a colourful cultural prorgramme which received applauses from the audience.
Deepalaya-Charms has introduced a total of 24 designs for Diwali and New Year Cards. These cards will be available at the cards and stationery shops. These cards will be available in majority of cities, also across India. The aim behind this project is to build a mass support for Deepalaya's work. the cards are priced at Rs.6/- only, and offers a range of personalized greetings.
This project is seen as an important step towards mobilizing domestic resources, reducing total dependence on external resources to some extent.
Maitree Shree 2000
The event where the benefactor and beneficiary come on a platform in an attempt to know each other. Moreover the event facilitates the sponsor to see personally how their contribution is utilized for all round development of each child. Maitree Shree was introduced in 1992. Since then Deepalaya organizes it every year. This year we have celebrated the event location wise as it becomes easy to have more sponsor parents visit children at different locations. Maitree Shree at Sanjay colony, on 5th August, was third in the series after Narang Deepalaya School and Transit Camp (Kalkaji Extn.). The event also marked the first Anniversary of Deepalaya Alumni Association, which brings all ex-students of Deepalaya School under one structure. The association propose to help these children plan their career and take opportunities of alternate learning introduced by Deepalaya leading to a profession.
Mr.Hans Jirgen Mehlig, Second Secretary (Economic Cooperation) Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany was the Chief Geust at the event. He was joined by sponsor parents who were treated to a variety cultural programme including Dances, Songs, Skits, Plays etc.
The evening started with the inauguration of an exhibition of display boards, handicrafts etc. The exhibition was a true reflection of imaginative and creative minds of children.
Speaking on the occasion Mr.Mehlig hoped Deepalaya would continue with its mission to help the vulnerable and wished Deepalaya a very bright future.
He later gave away prizes to the students who have successfully passed out X, XXth through National Open School examinations.
There was excitement for the sponsor parents who met their sponsored chilren. Mr.A.K.Azad, who has been sponsoring for the last seven years, said "I always wanted to come to Deepalaya to find out how my sponosred child has progressed during the year. "Seeing is believing" has ebcome true in my experience.
Sponsor of little Asha, Mr.Mande was in all praise for the colourful cultural fiesta presented by the children. He thanked Deepalaya for fulfilling his wish to do something for the needy children.
Playing Film Makers
Life in slums means - perpetual struggle. In an attempt to change that in a small way, Deepalaya and Cine-India have joined hands to introduce youngsters to the wiorld of Film Making.
It is the brainchild of Mr.Amarjeet, master cameraman who have always attempted to bring to the forefront various social problems through his documentaries. The effort is to impart basic inputs to youngsters in the slums and working children on camera technique, sound, editing and lights handling. The one year experimental course was launched in May with children from slums, some of them disabled and also working children.
So keep a watch! don't be amazed to see Deepalaya children carrying cameras on their shoulders and calling Action, Zoom, Cut, Counce...
Tailoring for a Better Tomorrow
In an attempt to pave way for a better life and support family income, Deepalaya revived the Tailoring unit which was closed long back in Khori village in the outskirts of Delhi.
People in the village have no proper occupation. So there is a scope for the women folks and girls to look for alternate means to earn their living. The centre was revived with the help of a social entrepreneur, who had done a course in cutting & tailoring from I.T.I but didn't have the confidence to revive the unit. Initiative of Social Workers from Deepalaya not only helped to revive the unit but they also resourced sewing machines from the community and later Deepalaya provided support in procuring more machines.
Today the centre has 17 girls enrolled in the course and they are learning cutting and tailoring of clothes of daily use, also napkins and bags.
According to one of the students, Vinu, "I had learnt some stitching and tailoring from my father but in this unit I am learning it with more professional approach. After I got myself enrolled with the course I am stitching clothes of our fellow villagers and supplement the family income.
The centre is a step towards - tailors for a better tomorrow for the inhabitants of Khori Village.
Training Programme on Disability Rights
It is estimated that India has 45 million persons with disability. Hardly 3% of them have access to any kind of services be it social security, education, employment, the list goes on.
In an attempt to train teachers working with special unit, on rihgts and facilities available to disabled persons a training programme was organized in Gole Kuan in September. The need was felt because, disabled population in slums are hardly aware of their rights and facilities.
The workshop was conducted by resource persons from Spastic Society of Northern India. They shared vital information with the teachers on various disability rights. Inputs were given on disability certificate, concessions, scholarships, etc. available for people with disability.
During the training sessions, discussions were held on Railway/Bus concession, Scholarship in MCD School, reservation for disabled persons, unemployment allowance, L.P.G & Kerosene distributorship, Information on aids & appliance, Income Tax rebate and on census policy. The programme is a step towards empowering disabled.
Balika Dakhila Abhiyan (Special drive to enroll Girl Children)
"The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from dead"
Female literacy is considered a powerful indicator of social development of any nation. But sadly some of the statistics quoted by the Sixth all India Education Survey (NCERT) points out, there are 110 million children enrolled in primary grades (Class 1 to V), girls from only 43% at the primary level and it decreases to 39% at the middle stage.
Mainly girls belonging to poor are the main sufferers as they are forced to support their families in household chores and in upbringing of siblings.
Deepalaya since its inception have been practicing a positive discrimination towards girl children. It is part of a continuous effort o make the girl child self reliant. Deepalaya organised a special drive to enroll gril children in Five South Delhi locations, namely Gole Kuan, Transit Camp, Gandhi Basti, Tagore Basti and Indira Camp. Deepalaya has been striving to enroll girls in formal schools. Girls in the project areas have been enrcouraged to participate in non formal education, home management, vocational courses like cutting and tailoring and beautician courses.
Since June this year, door to door campaign, rallies, street plays and essay competitions were organized in the project locations to motivate parents to send girl children to educational centres run by Deepalaya and also in MCD schools. The campaign is also aimed at restricting the drop out rate of girl children from schools.
According to a social worker Geeta, working with Deepalaya Gore Kuan Project, attendance of girls show a steady decline in the urban slums. As they graduate from primary to secondary classes and enter into their teens the parents start worrying about getting them married. They fear social taboos, eve teasing etc. as reasons for this dropping out from education.
Pavan Kumar, a member of Abhinay Samuh, uses street theatre for speading awareness on various social issues have scripged a play on the exploitation of Girl Child. The theme revolves around how girls are captivated withing the four walls and how issue of child marriage is prevalent.
Some of the statistics below would help us understand the impact of this Special Girl Child Drive.
During the campaign Rallies, group meetings and door to door counselling was done by the Social Worker and teachers.
Saleha Bano, social entrepreneur in Gole Kuan project, said "I am a teacher in Deepalaya's Girl Child Programme, and I belong to Gole Kuan community. I have particularly observed certain attitudinal changes in the community on Girl Child. Take my mother, she has immense confidence on Deepalaya and she has let me get involvement in development work".
The Special Drive is a step towards adding hope to the girl children, giving them their due share, help them restore their childhood asnd potential.