Life for Rahul Dubey always seemed like a mixed bag of interactions and experiences. Growing up in a family with ties to the army, he moved around a lot. After getting a taste of various cities and numerous schools, he landed up at Delhi University to complete a degree in Mathematics. “I have always followed my heart”, says Rahul. It is this longing to follow the path encapsulated by his dreams that led Rahul to volunteer with ALFA: a community based non-profit organization in Udaipur.
As part of his volunteering, Rahul landed up in Karawara, a small village in the kherwara block of Udaipur district, Rajasthan. When he reached the village, his life and perception took a nose dive. He could neither understand the local language nor could he cope with the cultural differences. Having lived his entire life in cities, he couldn’t really digest the differences that prevailed on the basis of caste and religion and were accentuated by illiteracy. It made him feel alien in a land that was supposedly part of his own nation and culture. He quickly realised that the only way for him to make a difference to the lives of these people was if he stayed longer. So, he extended his stay to three months and then later to six months. During the stay, he lived with people in their houses and learned their language. This helped him connect with the people more. He also helped ALFA establish three new youth resource centres where youngsters could come and learn new things and broaden their minds.
This helped him in understanding the immense impact that an institution, mixed with traditional skills and modern education, can have here. Thus, in 2016, he started The Village Spirit Academy: an unconventional school, run for the rural kids by the rural youth. The school initially ran in a rented building. But now, through crowd funding, Rahul has collected money to make a proper school building. The plan is to make an eco-friendly school building made out of mud-blocks so that it is strong, lasting and cost-effective. The aim of this school is the overall development of the students without their education being a burden on them. The school also involve diverse subjects like agriculture that are taught with the regular curriculum.
The villagers came forward and helped with the planting of vegetable gardens, so that the students can be taught about it. It was particularly made sure of, that the teachers at this school are those youngsters of the village who are qualified but do not have enough money to leave the village and pursue their careers. Regular trainings are also organized for these teachers by ALFA, where Rahul is currently working as a vice-president. He firmly believes that the people in the village should have enough opportunities in the village itself so that they do not have to move to the cities. He believes that these people understand nature and respect it. They shouldn’t have to leave something so close to them for a job. Once the building is ready, teachers will receive training for curriculum development and other such fields and a unique curriculum will be prepared for the children. The school plays host to more than 100 students and will also soon expand to hold six classes.
Towards the end of the conversation, Rahul subtly brings back our attention to the fundamental power of youth. “I firmly believe that youth has the power to to bring a change in the world if only we worked together and followed our passion. We have one life to live but if done well, that is more than enough!” says Rahul
Rahul journey is immensely inspiring and his work has made an impact on hundreds of lives. People can come forward and contribute to the cause, both financially and physically, and help him realising his dream of an eco-school for the students in the village. You get in touch with him here.
KHYATI PATHAK | TOC
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