Encountering a Child Begging For a Pencil Inspired Two Friends To Start Teaching Kids
Since 2019, two friends from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh, are running open air tuition classes to give underprivileged children an education. They not only teach 130 children but also provide them with books, notebooks and stationery.
Santosh Dev Giri 7 Oct 2023 11:16 AM GMT
Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh
Six years ago, while on a walk, 23-year-old Harikishan Shukla and 21-year-old Akash Mishra were taken aback when a child came up to them and begged them for a pencil. This was the first time they had encountered a begging child asking for a pencil instead of money or food.
“We gave him some money to buy that pencil and moved on, but could not stop thinking about the young boy,” Harikishan Shukla, told Gaon Connection.
Shukla and Mishra decided they had to do something about enabling children such as the one they had met on their walk, to study.
“Two years later, in 2019, we launched an open air classroom for underprivileged kids,” Shukla, who is currently studying pharmacy, said. His friend, Mishra, is a farmer.
Gandhi Park in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh is their open air classroom. In the beginning there were three children who came there to learn. But now there are close to 130 children. The two friends teach Mathematics, Hindi and English to kids in an age bracket of six to 10 years, without charging any fee.
These students also study at the local government-run primary school which is situated a kilometre away in Gyanpur area.
“Today, there are 130 children from underprivileged families who come to study here. We don’t only teach them but also provide them with books, notebooks and other stationery. And, we make it a point to celebrate birthdays and festivals together,” Mishra told Gaon Connection.
The classes are held on the premises of an old temple and the children coming here to study mostly belong to the backward castes.
Running the open air tuition classes costs Mishra and Shukla up to Rs 7,000 a month. “We collect money from friends and do some crowdfunding too. We also save up money ourselves to run these classes,” said Shukla.
Shukla and Mishra are registered with a non-profit organisation called Hind Foundation which helps them in getting charitable help.
“The Foundation helped us reach out to a larger audience. There’s no way we can ask the parents of the children to pay for these classes as most of them are barely able to make their ends meet,” Mishra said.
Children who used to wander aimlessly now have a place to come and learn. But it took time for Shukla and Mishra to convince their parents to ensure they send their children to the tuitions.
“We were initially asked for money by the parents. We had to convince them and point out to them how education could benefit their wards. Gradually they came around and sent their children to us,” Shukla said.
Sangeeta, a mother of two who lives nearby and works as domestic help, is happy her children are getting free tuition at the centre. Both her kids study at primary school Gyanpur.
“My kids, aged seven and ten, return from school at three in the afternoon. After an hour, at four, they go to tuition and spend an hour understanding better what they learnt at school that day and more. This free education they are getting here gives me peace of mind knowing that my children will learn well,” she said.