Aparnaa Laxmi, leading them from darkness to lightâ€¦
“I send my children only to Radiant Kids school because just for a fee of Rs 200 a month, they learn not just Hindi, English and Math, but also dance, yoga, music, gardening, theatre and games,” says Shiv Narain, a gardener who sends his children to Radiant Kids Multi Activity Centre in Sector 39, Gurgaon.
In today’s fast paced life, there are only some exceptions who work for the underprivileged. And one of those exceptions is Aparnaa Laxmi, a resident of DLF Park Place, Sector 54, Gurgaon, who started the school in 2012.
A social activist, Laxmi is an English graduate from Lucknow University. She’s worked with organisations such as UNICEF, Helpage India and Care International in the last 25 years. She also runs an NGO called Eco Lib Foundation under which the school functions.
She says, “I feel the underprivileged should also get quality education. However, they are often unwilling to send their kids to schools. It takes some effort to convince them otherwise.”
“The medium of instruction in our school is English and we are running the school on our own,” says Laxmi.
Cultural programmes are also held in the school, which operates in two shifts. One of the shifts is from 9 am to 12 noon, while the other is from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm. Children of rag pickers, slum dwellers and labourers attend the first shift while those already enrolled in government schools attend the second shift. Some students who cannot afford to pay the fee are being taught free of cost.
Children are given snacks every day and distribution of clothes, books, shoes and other items of need is a regular affair at the school. The school also provides medical assistance to the children.
Parents of children attending the school say it is a boon for them. Virwati, a maid and a mother of four children, says, “I am happy that my children are learning in a safe environment that is at a walking distance from home. My daughters are especially encouraged to discuss their concerns with the teachers and my sons have a chance to stay away from bad habits.”
Underprivileged women are also catered to from time to time. “I have been an active participant in the skill development programmes organised by the school and got an opportunity to increase my income by learning to make jewellery here,” adds Virwati.
The school, however, is just one of the feathers in Laxmi’s cap. She’s also been awarded with “Bharatiya Mahila Gaurav,” “National Achiever award,” “Woman of Substance” award and, recently, “Matri Shakti” award by Haryana Kala Parishad. She has worked with the Gurgaon traffic police as a road safety officer and has also been part of anti-sexual harassment committees of several companies.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that working for the society’s welfare runs in her family. “My father was a freedom fighter and I’ve wanted to do something for the weaker sections of the society since childhood,” adds Laxmi.