HT's You Read They Learn volunteers with slum kids at Gurgaon sector 12. HT photo/Manoj Kumar
Rajni, 12, a resident of a slum in Gurgaon Sector 12, is on her way to realise her potential, courtesy the You Read They Learn initiative by the Hindustan Times.
The 12-year-old was spotted by the volunteers of ‘You Read They Learn’ (YRTL) at a community tap in the illegal slum cluster.
“I asked the group of children if they were going to school. Some said yes, some said no. It was only her reply that stood out — if given a chance I would go,” said Vikas Nanda, a student of YMCA, Faridabad, a YRTL volunteer.
Rajni took her first ever step towards a school on July 8. She was a part of a group of 15 students from the locality who were enrolled into the government school in Sector 14.
Though she used to attend a tuition class in the slum, Rajni had no formal education. She was made to look after the household once her parents went out daily to earn their wages.
Her mother, Chanda, is a chik-maker and her father Phool Chand works as a labour in the stone-making industry.
“Before going to school, I used to help with household chores. I used to look after my younger sisters and brothers. But now, even they would want to go to school,” said Rajni, who is so fond of her uniform that she wears it all day long.
“I told my teacher I wanted my uniform to be in full white. But she told me that was not available and that I had to go for the blue and white combination. It won’t get dirty easily,” said the enthusiastic girl, now in class five.
The YRTL volunteers had to persuade the school authorities before they admitted the children.
“The teachers there told us that she had crossed the age and rejected her application. On the second day, when we went again they cited excuses such as there was no space for more students and that most parents stop sending their children to school within two to three days. But we convinced the school authorities,” said Vikas Nanda.
Although Rajni has the least clue as to what she wants to become in life, her mother wants her to grow up as a self-sufficient individual.