Passing through the murky lanes of the slum situated near railway tracks of Teliyarganj, one is greeted with an unusual sight every evening. Rows of neatly dressed children, with oiled hair and trimmed nails, marching towards their destination stand a stark contrast to the filth and squalor all around.
Their destination too is no ordinary place but the prestigious Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT) of the city. In two classrooms on the campus, these slum kids, mostly wards of scavengers, rag-pickers and rickshaw-pullers, sit together for two hours everyday to learn their daily lessons on different subjects: English, mathematics, science and general knowledge.
Weekends are the most awaited days as it gives these kids a chance to engage in co-curricular activities like drawing, painting, dancing and even playing guitar. This transformation in the lives of these slum kids, who not very long ago were seen loitering aimlessly or begging on the streets, has been brought about by 50-odd MNNIT students. Led by a colleague pursuing social work, this group of budding engineers, computer experts and managers have formed a registered NGO -- Arohan.
“We started by teaching just seven children a year ago but today the number has risen to 100. For this, we used to repeatedly visit slums in Phaphamau and Naraini Ashram and convince reluctant parents to send their children to our campus,” shares Manisha Chaudhary, the social work student who kickstarted this movement.
To this day, we escort these children from their respective slums to the MNNIT campus and drop them back, she adds.
“For a good place to teach them in, we talked to the officials of the Bal Bharti School located on MNNIT campus and took two classrooms on rent,” says Manisha, a Darbhanga, Bihar resident and daughter of a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel posted in Aligarh.
The MNNITians also pool in their resources and talents to make the initiative a success. “The books and stationery of kids are sponsored through core group members of Arohan while members of our marketing team shoulder the responsibility of raising funds. Some, under the arts committee, make posters and banners to raise awareness,” says Alankrita of Kanpur, a B Tech (computer science) student.
Courtesy Arohan, some of these slum children are even able to pursue formal studies in a regular school like Bal Bharti, MNNIT and do well.