This skywalk in Mumbai becomes a classroom for kids from the slum near Kandivali station. Every day for an hour, 22-year-old Haimanti Sen gives lessons to the kids who either beg to sustain themselves or waste their time loitering.
“I started going there every alternate day, first teaching them English because it seemed to catch their attention. That’s how I approached these children. I did not have any idea it was going to last this long. I thought it was going to be very easy, trying to get these children into school because that was my idea,” Haimanti tells InUth.
She started NGO Junoon to make sure the kids are able to follow the discipline required in schools. From teaching them for an hour to taking regular classes, NGO Junoon has developed a suitable curriculum for kids with the help of an eight-member board.
The team takes care of the monthly requirements that cost up to Rs 10,000 per month. Haimanti says, “These funds are used for the essentials we give to the children throughout the month or throughout the time we’re with them. Like water and food every day, like pulao or vada pav or idli vada or fruits. So every day, after class, we have a meal and apart from that we have slates on which they write, we have notebooks on which they write. We have printed activity sheets, we have crayons, we have letter sheets on which they write letters sometimes. We have also given them bags and shoes.”
The biggest obstacle remains convincing parents who often stop their kids from coming for the lessons but the kids have now learnt to stand up to them.
“Right now, I can tell you that among these 15 children, I do plan to get four to five into school this year so we are working on that as well. We are teaching them how to read right now because the children were planning to get into school are 7-8 years old who are going to be probably enrolled in the first or second grade. Schools expect a child of that age to know how to read basic letters and words,” she says.
Haimanti hopes she can soon ease others into the formal education system as well.