Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The case of Little Ajay

Ajay! Nine years old; he has such a cute face, and talks so innocently that you will not feel like letting him go once you speak to him for even five minutes. He is so fair his face would turn a bright crimson if you even stroke it; his cat eyes are full of mischief, and his toothy smile would make you want to hug him. He has one problem though…he does not attend school! And we, in DreamIndia2020, are trying to convince his parents to educate him. The following is an account of what the situation is…

Ajay lives with his parents in a small house in Bombay. He does not have siblings and his family hails from a village in Gorakhpur. A group of our volunteers conduct study classes to him and his friends living in the same locality and one day we came to know that he has stopped going to school.

On talking to his mom, we heard some pretty strange reasons for not sending the child to school. His mom said that the school was far away and that she was afraid to let him cross the road. “So why don’t you accompany him?”, we shot back. Even she was afraid to cross roads. For the sake of crossing roads, this boy’s education has been brought to a standstill.

All the while when we were talking to his mom, Ajay was going through a picture book English words and phrases with Hindi translations. ‘Teacher, what is this?’ he asked pointing out to ‘television.’ When Neha explained what it was, he continued writing the words in his small book, with a tiny pencil, all the while calling out loud what he was writing.

‘So if you could spare Rs 3000, we can put him in a privately run Hindi medium school,’ said his mom. (The day earlier she had said that it would cost Rs. 5000) Money is not an issue, but there were some difficulties in giving money. Firstly, that was a big community and favors done to one child would mean expectation from the other parents around. Secondly, we have to create a sustainable model. In the long run, just doling out money to the needy and asking them to educate their children wont work. There is an immediate need to make these people understand the importance of education and strive hard to get their children educated. When this family can afford to buy a flat screen Sansui television in installments, they could have done well to use that money on the education of Ajay.

‘Ajay, how was the school that you went to till now? Why don’t you want to study there?’

‘It is bad. The teacher comes, eats paan and goes out. All the other children keep playing in class whole day. No one teaches anything. Teachers hardly take lessons.’

‘So were you able to make friends there?’

‘No! The children speak Marathi there, whereas I know only Hindi, so I didn’t have friends from there. I do not want to go back there.’

It was quite shocking to hear all this from an eight-year old. Such is his want to study and our educational system has decimated that want so ruthlessly.

Finally, we decided to talk to his father in the evening. Its still afternoon and I am drafting this report from office. His face haunts me, does Ajay’s. There are many Ajay’s in the country, many who are intelligent, have a will to learn, but not the means. The reasons are many…Parents who are negligent, teachers who don’t care, the list goes on…

I hope something good comes out of the meeting with his father. It might not make a difference to the thousands of Ajay’s in the country, but it will to this little one! I pray to the Lord!

Continued here

Sunday, June 11, 2006


This was a golden moment in DI2020's short tenure - being recognised by Television. We were featured in a youth program called "YUVA" on DD NEWS.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Our First Activity Room

After months of hard work, which involved collecting money, roaming around places in Bombay to procure material, and talking to a lot of people about what kind of material to use, which place to buy the stuff from, and the like, DreamIndia2020's first ever Activity Room for child education, is complete. This imposing strucure will, in the coming months serve as a study center for the children of the twelve families living in this aloof tribal village, nestled unnoticed in the interior of Goregaon East, in Bombay.

Theres still a lot of work to be done...Sourcing teachers, setting up furniture and other basic infrastructure inside the room etc., but now that the main work - that of building the room - is over, we can breathe easy and finish off the remaining tasks.

As is usual, keep watching this space for updates.