A children’s summer camp organised by the managing committee of a housing society in Mayur Vihar Phase I Extension led to this noble initiative.
The adage ‘the best things in life are free’ is reiterated in the selfless act of three women residents of United India Apartment, Mayur Vihar Phase I Extension, who have undertaken the responsibility of educating poor children minus any tuition fee.
Meena Kapoor, Kamaljeet Burmi and Krishna Chalia also provide books and study material to the children of the employees and domestic workers of the society in addition to imparting creative skills such as drawing, painting, paper cutting and cloth designing.
This philanthropic initiative began nearly two months ago when the managing committee of the society had organised a children’s summer camp — the highlights of which were an art and painting competition. The camp had witnessed active participation from some women residents, particularly from Kapoor, Burmi and Chalia. They had organised an interaction session with the children of the society employees and domestic maids. During the course of this interaction, the three enterprising ladies realised that many of these economically underprivileged children have the potential and will to learn new skills and live a better life.
Inspired by the zeal of these children, the three residents started their initiative. In the words of Kamaljeet Burmi, “These children have talent but hesitate to express themselves. This is mainly because they do not have the right environment for self expression in their homes or municipal schools. Moreover, many such children, especially the girls, do not even have primary education.”
Usha Sukheja, a social activist, and yoga teacher from the same society, is also extending support for this initiative. In a single week, three classes each of one-and-half hours are conducted by this team of women. About ten children — hailing from New Ashok Nagar, Chilla village and Kalyanpuri — are split into two groups and then coached on mainstream disciplines such as English, mathematics, science and others.
This initiative has been well received by the beneficiaries. Suman Kumari, a daughter of a labourer and domestic maid, says, “Here, I am learning English, maths and art subjects. I have also learnt different mehendi designs. These madams do not scold us.”
In the words of Nandan Kumar Jha, a student of Class VIII in a municipal corporation school, “The teachers of this society teach much better than my school teachers. I easily understand what they teach and I also get to learn English and maths here.”
Krishna Chalia, who has two daughters and a son, is an expert in painting, drawing and anchoring. “After I lost my husband in 2012, I started teaching painting and drawing to little children of the society to keep myself occupied. My own children are grown up and settled. It gives me immense satisfaction to conduct free tuition classes. And I also feel very happy when I see the interest of these poor children in art,” says Chalia.
Meena Kapoor, on the other hand, is a senior teacher of mathematics and English in Rishabh Public School in Pocket 4, Mayur Vihar Phase I. According to her, many of the children studying in municipal schools do not understand the basics of their subjects even while studying in Class VIII and X.
Speaking about their community initiative, she says, “We decided to call those students who genuinely want to learn. It’s better to teach less number of students, but teach them better. I understand their level of comprehension and teach accordingly.”