Written By: Prakhar Agnihotri, 4th year Civil Engineering student from JSS NOIDA
“Slavery is one of the worst forms of violence, as is the denial of education. Education is key to liberating children from slavery.” - Kailash Satyarthi
How often does it happen that a child, no older than 10, runs up to you on signal offering to wipe your car, or in a market, trying to sell you a couple of pens, stickers or the tricolor? How often do you rue the state of poverty and negligence these children are in? I'd say it happens several times a week, if not every day. The system and the society too have adapted itself to turn a blind eye to the state of these children.
These children, since their births, are always at a disadvantage. The financial and social constraints of their families ensure that something as basic as the right to education is affected, skimmed or skipped altogether in some cases. Now the biggest question is, even after making basic education free, with so many perks attached, why is the turnout of underprivileged children in schools so low. A reason could be attributed to the economic conditions of the families of these children. Their families make these children work during the day so that at night there could be food on the table. Also, the long hours of school make it non-feasible for these children to attend the classes.
To battle this problem and to provide a more feasible means of education to these children, 'Slum Swaraj Foundation' has been formed. SSF is an NGO that operates in several cities spread out over the Gangetic plains like Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Saharanpur, and Greater Noida.
The name of the NGO itself means swarajya of slums, that is, independence of the slums from the social and financial constraints that have held down the families living there due to systematic negligence.
The NGO plans to do this by educating the underprivileged children who reside in these slums. Since SSF is majorly run by college-going students, the workforce of this nature dictates that the class can only be effectively held in the later hours of the day. This comes as a blessing in disguise as most of these children can't indulge in luxuries like studying during the day.
SSF tries to provide basic education to these children and connect with them on a personal level to ensure that they don't discontinue their studies, which is quite common in this social strata. SSF strives to prevent these children from getting sucked into the vicious cycle of child labor, to educate them about their rights and duties and to provide them an equal footing and platform so that these children can explore their true potential.
The duties of this NGO do not end here. SSF to date has admitted 25 children into reputed schools. It pays for their fees, uniforms, stationery and other educational expenses. It conducts felicitation programs to encourage bright children. SSF also conducts and celebrates several festivals, sports meet and health awareness programs for these children, which does put smiles on the faces of these children.
SSF provides a great platform for our young generation. As a more privileged member of society, we can give an hour or two to this NGO, to share our knowledge and ensure a substantial change in the lives of these children. Be a part of this community of 1500 volunteers, and more, who provide basic education to 1200 students daily. Trust me, it feels good.