Friday, July 28, 2006

Dream India - CNBC coverage

This is our second venture in Bombay. And CNBC India has recognised our efforts here as well as as an organisation

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The case of little Ajay- Latest Update

Finally…after long hours of convincing, his parents agree! Ajay is now happily studying in Duttpada School and tells us cheerfully “Thank you teacher. Now mummy papa have put me in school.” Sounds fairy talish, but true.

This primary role of this column is to make people aware that it does not take much to make a difference. We just need to keep our eyes open and keep doing the small things. In Ajay’s case, one of our volunteers doggedly visited his parents, the schools nearby, and gave his parents a wealth of information. She also tried and gave them options as to where they could make him study as per his and their (parents’) convenience. This has reaped rewards, as now, DreamIndia2020 has yet another feather up its cap. And has helped continue the education of yet another child!

PS: Read the first part of this article here

Monday, July 17, 2006

India Shining?

Pune! The educational capital of India! How ironic it is that there are so many children in this city who are working for a living, and don’t go to school at all. When this reporter had visited the city to meet a friend, the sight in MG road was shocking. There were a lot of kids, all below 10 years of age, teeming around holding shoe brushes and small tins of polish, imploring people to get their shoes shined. When my friend, unable to refuse a kid, sat down to have his shoes done, I started off a casual conversation with the boy.

I found out that he was from Assam and was about 10 years old. He had a brother, also a shoe shine, and a small sister. His mom was a beggar and his father ‘daroo peeta hai’ (drank and did nothing else). The boy, Vikas, was soon joined by his slightly elder brother, Vishal, who stunned me by saying “Welcome to Pune, Sir. Nice meeting you” in absolutely perfect English. On asking how on earth he spoke such English, he said that some ‘uncle’ used to come to their houses daily and hold English classes for a rupee a day, but now, he had left to Assam, so the classes are no more.

The kids were all educated up to the 1st standard, beyond which, utter poverty drove them to Mumbai, the land of dreams, to eke out their living. I wandered around a little bit more and found more children with brushes in hand. All of them had the same story, mom begged for a living, father ‘daroo peeta hai’ and they all spoke very good English. It was indeed surprising to see all of them expressing a desire to work and earn so that they could educate their little sisters. Such a sense of responsibility at such a tender age saddened me.

We could not afford to neglect the plight of those kids. Hauling them in an auto, we visited their huts in Vaidhwadi. A filthy pathway strewn with faeces led to their settlements. On seeing us, more children spilled out of their homes and we invited the mothers to join us for a conversation.

“If we send them to school, where will we get the money to eat food? We simply cannot afford to make them study. They are a major source of income for us” said one parent.

“They are not interested in studying. They have to earn. Even if they could study, this nearby school (pointing to a large government school) has many admission forms that are to be filled, and we do not understand any of them,” said another.

All the ladies were around 50 years old, and looked more like 65-year olds. Their teeth (for those who had any) were completely blackened, their skin, wrinkled to very extremes, and their spirits, sagging.

“Earlier we were in an other part of Pune, then the government shifted us to another place, now we are here. We don’t know what will happen next,” lamented one old lady.

It took us an hour to convince them that they had to make their kids study, and that the children can work in the evenings. Though we, in DreamIndia2020, do not know how we are going to help them, we do know for sure that we will start off yet another project in Pune (where we already are working in Apale Ghar and Manavya) very soon and that these kids will be the beneficiaries.

While going back, one kid asked, “Sir, where do people go after they die? Do they return to land?” and while I was done giving him the story which my mom gave me when I was young and had asked her a similar question, another counters “Sir, know what? I heard this story that there are some objects that revolve around the sun, and that long time back, there was some kind of a bomb up in the sky, and that the world was created because of that. Do you believe that?” I could not believe it, and I am talking about the child’s knowledge and not the Big Bang theory. I would still understand if those children spoke English, but when that fellow spoke about the Big Bang theory itself, I found myself wondering, where he would go, what heights he would touch, if properly educated. I was so immersed in those thoughts that when an other boy questioned me about what lay beneath the earth’s surface, I could not even listen properly.

As the sun slipped behind the mountains in Pune, and brought upon the dull darkness, I dropped them back at MG Road, which is converted into a “walkers only zone” during weekends. The hip evening crowd was milling around and I stood looking blankly at the kids as they waved their goodbyes and dissolved into the crowd, looking for customers who would have their shoes shined.

Well, it would be wonderful, if they could have someone bring some shine into their lives. We, at DreamIndia2020, are striving to do exactly that. Will you join us?

Please mail us to let know how you can be of help. We mainly require volunteers from Pune, who can visit this place on a weekly basis, and hold study classes for them.

Mail or

Alternately, you can also call..

Varun: 9324060161
Rohit: 9422760672

Jai Hind!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Activity Room

Finally, after months of waiting and hard work, DI2020 inaugurated its first activity room at the pada, in Bombay. We just made it as the rains lashed the city days after the completion. The wonderful thing about this project was the participation of the locals. They understood the cause and shared the cost of building the room with us. We hope this room would give the children a real classroom like atmosphere, which usually brings out the creative juices in them.

We thank all the people who contributed, both in monetary terms, as well through their hard work, in making this a success!

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