ByÂ Anwesha Dhar:
In this month’s stories which I had been doing for the Volunteerism section, I noticed a pattern. They were mostly success stories of inspiring youngsters who took ‘the path less travelled’ with success, more or less. That is when my thoughts drifted to Devanik Saha, an ex-TFI Fellow, renowned for educational services who is grappling through quite a few obstacles in his way of bringing about change.
Devanik, soon after college, joined the acclaimed TFI Fellowship but unlike many others, decided to continue with his kids. The school that he taught in gave rise to such wishes, “We taught English to a section of kids there. However the other kids of that school were not exposed to such opportunities. The quality of education was rather poor, almost absent.” The children’s own siblings in other classes were on the other side of the table. That is when Devanik decided to kiss his plans of doing Masters in the UK, goodbye and launched a learning hub, ‘Unnayan’ for developing a sustainable system of education for the girl child. It has been almost a year since it started. “Classes take place throughout the week. During weekends, volunteers come and impart other life skills to these kids like dance, art and craft.” Unnayan thus aims at not only education but also at the overall development of these kids.
However, ventures, no matter how noble, bring their own set of challenges. And when that venture is one in the social sector, it can prove to be twice as terrible. “Funds are proving to be a big challenge. I have been doing many part-time jobs to make up for the finances.” On top of this is the operational challenge he has been facing. “The area is quite far and difficult to work in.” So far, the best help he has gotten is in form of laptops donated by a Xerox Research company. “People I have approached are a little hesitant about donating as we do not have the 80G tax exemption status yet. That itself takes a lot of time.” The situation is so unstable that he has not even told his parents yet about not going to the UK.
Unnayan had withheld its operations as of now, but has plans of starting with full rigour within the next few months. Devanik candidly confesses that a lot of help is required to make these dreams come true.
This conversation left me quite shaken and alert. In a country where we are desperately trying to promote education, ‘female education’, child rights and what not, it would be a shame if an initiative like this is forced to shut down. If education is indeed priceless, why are funds posing such a huge threat to the education of so many innocent little girls harbouring dreams to be better citizen of tomorrow, just like you and me? The thoughts remain unresolved; questions seem to grow every passing second.