Being the change: United we grow

Empowering children from low-income groups through education, Ravi Gulati’s Manzil grooms good citizens

August 14, 2016 08:57 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST - Delhi

15dmc ravi gulati

15dmc ravi gulati

In a world caught up with promotion of self there are some for whom instead of methe operative word is us. This is was what Manzil, a non-profit organisation does. It provides a community and resources for local youth from low-income background to learn, teach, be creative and see the world in new ways. Ravi Gulati, who spearheads Manzil observes that education is important to earn a livelihood but that is just a small part of life. “Manzil enables learning, fulfilment and responsibility not just for self but beyond that is –– family, neighbourhood, village, country and the world.”

The emphasis is on contentment in terms of material desires and wants while there is no bar on being ambitious in wanting to better oneself. Desirous of this happening in India, Ravi avers that independence from British was a step towards achieving more. “Mahatma Gandhi viewed the political Swaraj as an enabler to work towards other objectives like self-control and ameliorating the hardships of the poor. We need to work towards this though there is a long way to go.”

An MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, Ravi worked for eight months prior to quitting since he was dissatisfied with the meaningfulness of his work. “Engaged in economic activity to meet more and more needs and desires, I did not agree with the percept of consumerism that consumption leads to happiness. This is not true and it has an adverse effect on our ecology.” In jest he adds: “I did not want to be part of that rat race because I am not a rat.” Planning to do organic farming fate had something else in store for him. He agreed to help two children who approached him for help in mathematics –– one a washerman’s son and other of a gardener’s. Soon he was teaching 20 children of barbers, electricians, maids and drivers leading to establishment of Manzil.

At present there are 250 children and youngsters in Manzil between seven and 27 years who can explore what they want to learn as it offers multiple classes at various levels in English, Mathematics, music, computers, painting, dance and theatre. Structured classes with fixed timetable and schedule are held after school hours. “No fee is charged but one is fined for coming late,” says Ravi. An apt way of teaching the value of time! Another feature of Manzil is sharing of knowledge and expertise among the participants. Thus, there are students, 30 of whom play teachers. The youngest is 13 instructing students older to her. “Sharing is the best way of learning,” maintains Ravi.

So far 10000 children have been a part of Manzil with many continuing to keep in touch with the NGO. One points out, it is a good number, Ravi says it is just a drop in the ocean. “While feeling dissatisfied with this, I am happy that most of those who have been part of Manzil prefer to work for an NGO or contribute to a cause.” He cites the example of Amit who runs an NGO Aadhyam with 150 children in Zamrudpur village. “Landing a job, Amit initially found happiness by spending on things like mobile. Later realising that there is more to life like sharing he, now, instead of treating friends in an eatery prefers to share food with underprivileged children.”

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