The Optimist Citizen
school under the flyover

A school, under a flyover, in New Delhi is transforming the lives of hundreds of deprived children

A first year college dropout from Aligarh, Rajesh Sharma lives in Delhi with his family and owns a small grocery shop. Born and brought up in difficult circumstances, Rajesh had to give up his dream of acquiring higher education as his family could not afford to pay his fees and the college was located at a far off place which was difficult to commute from his village. Consequently, he started working at his grocery shop along with his brother to earn a living.

Rajesh Sharma with one of the student at the School under the bridge

Even though he could not complete his studies he was deeply passionate to bring educational to all. But the sight of little children on streets who either were wandering around his shop or were involved in some laborious tasks used to upset him to the core. One day, Rajesh headed to discuss this issue with the parents of these children in order to explain them the importance of education in today’s world and how educating their children can bring a good fortune to them. The parents countered his suggestions saying that they had no or very little resources to help their children get educated and also the schools were located far away from their places. These issues reminded Rajesh of his own struggle and in no time, he decided to teach two children of a family in his free time. “The happiness that I could see on the faces of the parents when they saw their children being taught was like some blind person was bestowed sight.” says Rajesh.

He started teaching these children near Yamuna metro bridge under a tree, but soon shifted his teaching location under a flyover that could shelter the school from sun and rain. This school has no infrastructure, no roof, no walls and no benches. All it has, is a black board and curious and enthusiastic kids ready to learn. Today, after 11 years of hard work and perseverance, Rajesh’s school has around 250 children getting educated on different subjects. His first two students – a girl and a boy are now studying in 11th and 12th class respectively. Rajesh is determined to lead these children to mainstream education and many of his students are now placed in several government schools. “The journey hasn’t been easy. There was no support from family at first, no administrative support, lack of funds to construct toilets for girl students and much more. But step by step, gradually we conquered these obstacles.” says Rajesh recounting all the challenges he faced while setting up of his venture. “I do not expect much help from outside and do not believe in going about the traditional ways of setting up a non-profit. I believe in doing my karma. I am not doing this work to gain any kind of fame or popularity. I want to work straight with my targets and goals, which is doing something that benefits these underprivileged children.” says the compassionate and generous man.

The school is open for all those who wish to contribute to this noble mission in any possible way. People who are aware of this undertaking often come and contribute books, stationery and uniforms to the students. “People in today’s times are so engrossed in their own lives that they usually do not pay any attention to the struggles and hardships of others. If we cannot go out of our way to help someone in despair, then that’s a meaningless life. We all should get involved and carry out activities that can transform lives so that people can remember us even after we depart.” concludes Rajesh.

Nazneen Kachwala | TOC

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