The Weekend Leader - Friends for a cause

Four friends on a teaching mission in Rajasthan

Anil Sharma   |   Jaipur


Vol 2 | Issue 35

Young men like them would be spending their money on shopping, entertainment or on savings. But not these four friends from Rajasthan. They have pooled their money to start a school for poor kids and even take classes before leaving for office.

For almost two months now, the four friends from Rajasthan's Jodhpur town - Mangal Singh Deora, Mahesh Banjara, Manish Dabi and Kamlesh Shankhla - have been funding the education of under-privileged children by starting a school at a rented building.

Change agents: About 50 children are getting free education in the school run by the four friends in Jodhpur (Image used for representation purpose only – Photo: Nathan G)

At the end of every month, the four pool their savings for the school - for books, pens, uniforms and teachers' salaries.

In two months, the schools' enrolment figure has grown to 50.

While Banjara is a graduate in science and has done a computer course, his three friends are undergraduates. The four are in the age group of 25-28 years.

They started the primary school in two rooms in Jodhpur, some 330 km from state capital Jaipur.

"Most people don't know what education is worth because they are fortunate to have it the easy way. Due to my poor background, I faced insurmountable difficulties in getting it. And that's what became the inspiration for this cause," said Deora.

"I started working on it in the last two years and finally it took shape in July. Now we have over 50 students in our school, a majority of them from poor background. Six kids do not even have parents," he said.

A marketing executive with a private firm, Deora had to drop the idea of higher studies after school as his family could not afford it. But now he is trying to get a graduation degree.

"The difficulties which I faced would always pinch me and make me think about what I should do, so that others don't go through the same situation. I got the idea of starting a primary school for poor children and my three friends chipped in," he added.

Banjara works in a local factory while Dabi and Shankhla are executives in a private company.

"In June, we checked our bank balance which was enough to rent two rooms and we started a primary school," said Manish.

They are paying Rs.4,000 as monthly rent for the building that houses their school named 'Hamara Bachpan' (our childhood).

"We contacted people living in slums and came to know that their children were not going to school. We convinced them to send their children to our school. They agreed. About 50 children are now getting free education here," said Mangal.

"We take classes before going to work and have also appointed teachers to teach the students," he said.

"We are so happy to do this. We never realised that the response is going to be so good," he said.

But due to a rush of admission-seekers, the four friends are now faced with a bigger challenge. "We have limited resources and to provide everything free to every student is bit of a problem, we also have to pay the rent as well as salary to the teachers... We are now requesting parents, who come from somewhat better background, to help us in whatever way they can to run the school," said Shankhla.

Ramesh Kumar, father of five-year-old Rohit who studies in Hamara Bachpan, said: "We are really thankful to these guys for educating our children... Otherwise it would have been very difficult for us to send them to school because of the high fees." - IANS

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