Razia often recalls the moment when as a child she walked barefoot in the scorching sun to school, her feet blistered. It’s this painful memory which left a burning desire to change a rebellious child who threw her slippers on his first day at our balbhavan. The passionate teacher’s determination to direct this boy, Pawan in the correct path has helped him reach graduation and follow his dream of becoming a Police Officer.
On a mission
“I’m happy to wake up each morning knowing that there are children from the slums who are excited to learn and play,” says Razia, who has worked as an assistant teacher at our Kshitij Balbhavan, Sarjepura for the past five years. Her enthusiasm, dedication towards teaching and willingness to extend her hand towards social work is admirable. “It’s because of Snehalaya that I have these innate qualities”, she quickly credits our NGO.
“My heart goes out to the children in the slums. As they grow, they are often exposed to domestic violence and peer pressure. It’s a harsh environment and they become mute spectators to violent community brawls. They lack the attention of parents who are burdened with their own struggles for survival and some are coerced into child labour to supplement the family income” adds Razia.
Kshitij balbhavan runs a night school for nearly 100 children in Ramvadi slums. ”It was during one of our visits to the slum, that I met Pawan. Pawan was no different to many slum children. A mischievous, rebellious school dropout who wasn’t keen on studies. Having lost her husband when Pawan was young, his mother is now the sole bread winner for the family of four children. I had to personally persuade her several times to send him to school and our balbhavan,” Razia recalls.
On a winning note
When Pawan did begin attending school, Razia was relieved and elated. She knew that she had won half the battle. However, change was immediate; Pawan proved to be a difficult child. He could quickly get into trouble and enjoyed bullying smaller kids. “We felt we need to divert his excess energy. So, we chalked out a plan, sent him to Karate classes and encouraged him to play games such as football which nurture team spirit,” Razia said.
Gradually Pawan calmed down. Sport brought discipline and team spirit into his life. He started focusing on his health and studies. Importantly, Pawan has learnt to respect his teachers and has a large circle of followers.
Today Pawan is studying in his frist year of a BA and works part time to help his mother run the house,and wants to join the Maharashtra Police force and serve the nation.
“It gives me such a great satisfaction to see a child who would have been on the wrong side of the law now aspiring to join the Police. There are still hundreds of children out there in our slums who can be wonderful citizens of our country if we direct them the right path. We at balbhavan dream of achieving this!” says the proud teacher. Thanks to teachers like Razia, who didn’t shy from the challenge to make Pawan stand out, children and youths like him are already showing signs of leadership and values in communities where violence, broken families, aggression, poverty and illiteracy are all too widespread.
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