This is among one of initiatives started by the NGO Being Social-Ek Nayi Shuruaat. The name of the initiative is ‘Kalapathshala’. The purpose of this initiative inculcating education and moral values among children living in orphanages and slums. These children are taught moral values, skills development, culture and life skills. The first branch of Kalapathshala started in a slum in Ghaziabad in 2017. The second branch opened in Patna (Digha slum- Malin Basti) on January 10, 2019.
We started our session with an interactive round to get familiar with the kids. This is because according to people living in the basti, many people come to gain popularity in the field of social work instead of doing real ground work. They click photos and make false promises.
Thus, our first task was to gain trust, only then could we expect cooperation from them. We clicked pictures and shared live videos, but only with the motto of creating awareness. There is a difference between promoting and making people aware. The plus point for us was that there were many school-going kids there — most children went to government schools, while a few went to private schools. So, they had a rough idea about their subjects and the books.
But the problem they were facing was that of their environment as well as school teachers, who were not providing them enough guidance. There were few children who were not enrolled in any school. They were our first priority because we had to work more on them. As days passed by, we got to know that these kids only had bookish knowledge, which was not enough.
The purpose of our teaching was not just to help them pass their exams. It was more than that. In order to make studies interesting and retain longer, we adopted a different teaching style. It kept in mind overall personality development and confidence-building. We want to bridge the gap between children from slums and other areas.
We took the help of different activities to bridge this gap. First of all, we divided them into groups: Basic, Intermediate and Advance. We conducted a three-hour class every Sunday. Just like in schools, we started with a prayer. This year, we followed the prayer session with a half-hour yoga session (as yoga is useful for both mind and body) followed by teaching respective subjects.
Our main focus is on communication skills, hence, we would conduct oral classes to rectify their pronunciation, This helped them gain confidence while speaking in front of the class. For motivation, we also used to gift them stationery items. We not only focused on studies, but on overall development, which also includes cleanliness and hygiene.
We treat them like our family members, so we celebrate every festival with them under the head ‘Festival for All’. On Republic Day and Independence Day every year, we talk to them about the importance of our country. We celebrate Holi with flowers, on Diwali, we decorate our surrounding, make Rangoli and distribute sweets. They celebrated Children’s Day, Christmas and New Year with us for the first time in their life. Just like Annual Day in schools, we also organise KalaPathshala on January 10 every year.
As I had mentioned earlier, they are like our family members so we are always there for them in times of need, be it groceries or hygiene kit donation drive. For example, during the sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a lockdown was imposed and they were facing issues such as shortage of groceries for their daily meals, we arranged groceries for them with the help of our donors. We also got contribution from Dainik Bhaskar as well as support from Bihar police. According to us, sanitary napkins are also a part of monthly needs and thus, we distributed pads with soap and mask for each household.
Under our social initiative Blanket Donation Drive, we distributed blankets during chilly winters. Similarly, under the initiative Cloth Donation Drive, we distributed new clothes on the eve of New Year. A big thanks to all supporters, contributors who have been an integral part of our journey. I am very grateful to all volunteers who are our backbone. So, if you are a real changemaker, make education your main tool. You can donate and help people if you wish to, but if you want to see real change, you must educate them and make them aware.