This week may be Joy of Giving Week, but for some youngsters it happens all the year round. Suvasini Sridharan finds out more
College is over for the day. Groups of students rush out of classrooms chatting away excitedly. Plans are thrown around from going for coffee to hanging out at the shopping mall. But a group of around 10 girls from Kasturba Gandhi Women’s College spend their time after college a little differently.
Every day they walk down a dusty road to a government school near their college. In a tiny, untidy classroom, eager, excited children wait for them. They sit on wooden benches their bright eyes shining. In their hands they clutch onto scraps of paper and writing material, waiting to be taught. The girls from Kasturba College spend a couple of hours teaching English to these children. Pratibha, a second year commerce student from the college, says, “From setting homework to giving tests we teach children from Ist standard to Vth standard to read, write and speak English.”
The idea was conceptualised by Anitha Reddy, a reader at the college as well as in-charge of NSS activities. Five days a week the girls make the trek to the government school. In this government school the children are taught in Telugu till the Vth standard, after which they are put in English medium schools. “The children find it hard to adapt to learning in English,” says Payal Singh, a second year student. To make the transition for the children easier Payal, Pratibaha and the others tutor them in English.
The college girls try to make the teaching interactive and fun. They take pains to formulate lesson plans, they hand out prizes to the children who perform well in the tests and just spend time listening to what the children have to say. “All that the kids need is encouragement and time,” says Rohini Singh, another second year student.
Many youngsters who were involved in social work while in college still find the time after graduating to continue the good work. Nivedita N, who works for Thompson Reuters, got involved with the Bhumi organisation a couple of years ago while studying in Vasavi engineering college. She still continues to be a part of their organisation. She started out by mentoring students and now for four hours a week, she tutors VIII and IX standard students in Mathematics.
Earlier she had worked with visually challenged children. Once she had to scribe for a student for his XII standard mathematics examination. She would read out the question to the student and he would calculate the answer mentally, using complicated equations. She was awestruck by his passion for the subject. “I wondered who is fortunate. We, who have everything, yet crib or they who have lost a lot, yet smile through their difficulties,” she says. According to Nivedita, experiences like this are what keeps her going and makes her take time out of her life to help those less fortunate.
To be socially productive one need not be in the thick of the action to make a difference. Harshavardhan, a young professional working with an event management company, spends a few hours a week working at Ashray Akruti, an organisation that works with hearing impaired children and school drop-outs from the slums of Hyderabad. Harshavardhan helps in back office work from putting together the annual reports to organising events. He says, “Even though I don’t directly work with the children I know that indirectly I am making an impact on their lives,” he adds, “The confidence the children have and smiles on the children’s faces when you walk into the organisation makes it all worth it.”
It seems so easy to generalise today’s youngsters as a generation that seeks instant gratification — a generation that refuses to wait and only interested in the latest gadget or the hippest hangouts. However, there are scores of youngsters trying to make a difference and in their own small way give back to society.