Chandigarh: Illuminating lives of slum dwellers with education

  • Nikhil Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2015 13:35 IST

Education is illuminating the lives of over 500 residents of Shastri Nagar, a slum located on the outskirts of Manimajra town of the city, in ways they had never thought of even in the wildest of their dreams. In the absence of basic amenities to lead a healthy life, education works as healer to invisible scars of these slum dwellers live with. They say the two-hour class thrice a week is the time when they actually feel happy.

Of these, 300 are youngsters who had to leave their studies due to a poor health since they live in extremely unhygienic surroundings. Around 65 volunteers working as professionals in the IT Sector are imparting education to them.

These young professionals after their office hours visit the slum and assemble these students at 5.30pm sharp, segregate them according to their knowledge level and send them to different rooms which they have rented for the cause.

Around 50 adults, including 30 women and a few senior citizens, regularly attend their classes.

“I wanted to study when I was a kid but unfortunately, my father could not earn much. Moreover, I had to tie the knot at a very young age after which I landed up at Shastri Nagar, living where it is not less than hell. I used to feel disheartened as there was nothing left in my life other than following the same routine of being a domestic help at the homes of rich people. Then one day I heard that some people have taken initiative to teach our children and I approached them,” said Santosh (55), a local resident.

“They teach us English, Hindi and mathematics. Now I do not use thumbprint anymore as I can sign on the documents with sense of pride,” she added.

The loud cheers and laughter of students enlivens the surroundings when the residents attend their yoga classes.

“We are living in miserable conditions as the drinking water here is contaminated. There are no toilets inside the hutments. Moreover, there are no public toilets for us, due to which our women urinate in the open, which is quite embarrassing for us. No one is bothered about us as we live in the middle of excreta and garbage. Our children want to study but they cannot as they remain sick most of the time,” said Chandan Lal.

“I am really thankful to these youngsters as they have given us the reason to smile and provided us new ray of hope as our children are learning and enjoying the education at their doorsteps,” added he.

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