Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sarita Vaidya - Spreading the Light of Education in Slums

"She transformed a community on her own, singlehandedly. Despite the fact that she had to walk as much as 6KM everyday to reach her slum-school. Six years and she is still willing to work as hard as possible to spread the light of education in the lives of a forgotten  section of our glorious society."
Meet our real-life hero (sic) Sarita Vaidya, a slum-teacher who taught slum kids for six long years and helped a community understand the value of education in life. And she is still going strong. 

She started her journey on a December day when a social activist contacted her to be part of this noble cause. Sarita's husband had undergone a surgery and they were fighting a long 'land-battle' in the court where nobody but the lawyer(s) win. 

She had to support her husband, her son, and her daughter. Despite all this she said yes. She agreed to be a part of the campaign because she had seen little kids in her neighborhood growing up to be roadside-romeos because they didn't study. Many students would drop out of the school after a couple of sessions. She had to personally visit their houses, pull them out of the house, and then make them sit through her study sessions. On top of that drunkards wouldn't spare her. She was often mistreated and teased by the drunkards. But she marched on. 

When she started in 2006, problems and a shabby classroom was all she had. Add to it alcoholic fathers and cacophonous mothers. Even kids weren't interested to be inside the classroom but you can't blame them. 

Her first challenge was to convince parents to send their kids to the classroom. What started with 2 kids soon became phenomenal success. Not only kids but their parents too joined in.

Imagine a classroom where kids and parents are studying together. Sounds cool doesn't it?

But if you have to manage such a classroom on your own, it isn't easy. 

Sarita called for volunteers, many people joined in and then left too. But she fought her long battle alone. She has helped many kids complete their school education. Few of them even joined college and graduated successfully. 
In her own words, " I expect more people to step up and take education as their career. We all complaint about the education system claiming to know its problems. If we keep mum and do not show the path then things will remain the same forever. If one has faced the problem and knows the right way to fix it, then the best way is to step up and provide a solution."
Dedication and hard work are synonyms with Sarita. When I met her and conducted an interview with her for a regional newspaper, she was busy with her kids. Her classroom was shabby, there was more kids than the space in the room.

But the room was glowing with the light of faith and belief. Her kids were the happiest school-going kids I had ever seen.

Living up-to a challenge is something we all can learn from Sarita. She has indeed relished the challenge of life.

This post is my seventh entry for Cinthol’s Relishing the Challenge Campaign

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