Jaya Batra - A mother and teacher to underprivileged children in Indirapuram
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Jaya Batra - A mother and teacher to underprivileged children in Indirapuram

Jaya Batra, founder of Jaya Prayas Foundation proves, through her work, that age is just a number.

Jaya Batra - A mother and teacher to underprivileged children in Indirapuram

Jaya Batra, founder of Jaya Prayas Foundation proves that age is just a number if you have a good aim and a will to serve others. Her NGO works towards the development of 150 plus underprivileged children and women in Indirapuram.

Jaya Batra came to Indirapuram with her family after retiring as a teacher from Green Fields Public School, Dilshad Garden, Delhi 10 years ago. After coming to Indirapuram, the first thing that she noticed was the dirt and squalor of the place. The place was very dirty and 90 per cent of the rag pickers were children.

Jaya noticed a 3-4-year-old girl in a slum near her society. Everyone in the vicinity was very harsh with this girl. When Jaya tried to talk to her along the streets, the child got scared. Upon enquiring, Jaya learned that the child was a victim of physical abuse. Women in that area treated the child as though she were now a bad omen. Jaya took care of this girl as her own mother and tended to her. In some days, the child recovered and became like any other child.

This became a monumental incident in her life where she decided to work for the cause of providing education and a better life for underprivileged children. Initially, she started with just a few children, most of them were trash pickers. Now she has a total strength of 150-200 underprivileged children. She never wanted to run an NGO but truly wanted to help children. This is how she started Jaya Prayas Foundation, Indirapuram in 2012. In the early days, Jaya started by providing these children with soap, showers and teaching them table manners.

“When I started this movement my main aim was to make sure that no children spend time picking up trash from the roads and I will educate them to provide them a better life”, she added.

Jaya always found herself interested in society. Her father was in the police department so they have moved to various parts of the country according to her father's schedule. She completed her schooling from Nainital and did her bachelor's degree in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar. After her education, she worked in Akashwani, Doordarshan in Janvani program with Kuber Dutta. She has also written for Grah Shobha, and freelanced for organizations like Hindustan, Jansatta, Tribune on subjects related to child development and women empowerment.

She was always fond of poetry. Some of her favourite poets are Sur, Tulsi, Meera, Dinkar, Jayasi, Dushyant Kumar and Nida Fazli. Jaya has also published some books with the help of the Hindi Academy: Nagfani ki Oat: a collection of poems and Chalo Chalein School- a collection of poetry for children. Her research based on poems brought her to Delhi as it was the home of poets. Here, she met the love of her life Ramesh Batra, who was also a very famous poet. She married him and they had 2 kids, a girl and a boy.

However, Jaya has also gone through tremendous turmoil in her life, but she braved the hardships resiliently. After a few years of her marriage, her husband died. After that, she raised her children on her own.

She organizes classes and events for the students in Hathi Park, Indirapuram. To keep their classes interesting, the Jaya Prayas NGO organizes many fun events like fashion shows, dance, self-defence and yoga. The classes are taken by professionals only who are associated with the foundation voluntarily. They are also training many students for the 10th board open exams. Over 300 students associated with them have already got admission to government schools and in reserved seats for poor students in private schools.

Jaya shares that currently, she is facing the challenge to find a space for all her students. She can not teach 200-250 people in her house and there are certain issues with taking classes in the open such as weather and permissions.

She is 70+ years old but she has the spirit and zeal of a youngster. She never backs out “Does not matter what weather is it, you will always Jaya ma'am every day in that open park taking classes with the same level of motivation and enthusiasm”, says Saumya Pandey, a famous Indirapuram artist who also voluntarily works with Jaya Prayas.

After starting her social service with children, many underprivileged women who lost their job as domestic help during the pandemic also sought her help. She thus started teaching them how to write their names, basic math along vocational skills such as stitching and embroidery to help them find employment.

“People think that it is okay to provide second-hand articles to underprivileged children but what we must understand is that they are also humans." Jaya's NGO has received appreciation from many organisations throughout Delhi.
Jaya believes that there is still a long way to go in her mission to make the lives of underprivileged children better. “The mission we aimed for is not completed yet. We want to have a shelter, a place where these children and women can have proper facilities of education. But until then, ‘the whole world is our classroom." smiles Jaya.