Mumbai

Bridging urban-rural divide: Mumbai, Raigad students exchange lessons

Building bonds: Students of Aditya Birla School and New English High School interact at Bamnoli village.

Building bonds: Students of Aditya Birla School and New English High School interact at Bamnoli village.  

Swades Foundation organises two-day face-to-face interaction in Bamnoli village as part of efforts to give 360-degree approach to development of Raigad

Bamnoli village witnessed a unique rural-urban interaction between 48 students of Aditya Birla School in Mumbai and 256 students from New English High School in Raigad. Swades Foundation organised this two-day programme as a part of their continuous efforts to give a 360-degree approach to development of Raigad.

Aparna Shilpi, senior coordinator, Health and Education, Swades Foundation, said, “The first few hours are difficult and there is a communication gap, but students bond so well that it becomes difficult for them to leave. They are playing, eating and doing various things together without inhibition.”

On the first day, the students participated in various activities that aimed at increasing menstrual hygiene awareness and basic hygiene habits like washing hands and brushing teeth.

On the second day, they were taught basic Maths and English. Class X students were given an introduction to higher studies and career counselling. They were also briefed about the scholarship programmes provided by the Foundation after Class X and XII.

‘Inculcating good values’

Pradeep Sathe, Deputy Director, Health and Education, Swades Foundation, spoke about the larger aim behind such efforts. Mr. Sathe said, “We are trying to inculcate good values at a very young age. Students coming from more affluent backgrounds will learn aout how other people live. What they take for granted, people of certain sectors only dream about. Even if one of them considers contributing to this sector, it would be our achievement.”

Krish Rambhiya, a student of Aditya Birla School, said, “The moment we shun the attitude of being superior, communication is possible. I think the games we played beyond our activities helped us bond with them.”

For Raigad students like Simran Ghadge, who aspires to become a software engineer, the experience was enriching. She said, “ I will study well so that I can also get a smartphone. I will try and remain in touch with everyone.”

Sachin Wadhwal, a Class X student of New English High School, said, “I want to do electronic engineering, but I will pursue chemical engineering as my mother wishes. She doesn’t want me to learn the same thing my brother studied.”

Explaining the genesis of the initiative, the founder of Swades Foundation, Ronnie Screwvala, said, “ My daughter Trishya is involved in a project called The Lighthouse, where around 700 students are mentored by people who have lived a privileged life. Thy help out the students in career counselling. I realised both parties learn a lot in this process and something similar should be tried at the school-level. This is the reason I started with my own school Cathedral and John Connon School.”

‘Path to independence’

Swades Foundation is carrying out multiple projects in 750 villages, including around 2,000 hamlets, impacting five lakh people in Raigad for several years. Mr. Screwvala, a known name in media and sports, began the foundation with his wife Zarina.

He said, “I have had a very lower middle-class upbringing and always had this idea of giving back to society. If you ask me why Raigad, I would say it was coincidental and that we had already started work there before my career took off with UTV Motion Pictures. The idea was to make the people there independent, rather than just being facilitators.”

When it was time to bid goodbye, the Raigad students urged their new friends from the city to come back as soon as possible to exchange lessons and play with them again.

(The writer was in Raigad on the invitation of the Swades Foundation)

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 9:10:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/bridging-urban-rural-divide-mumbai-raigad-students-exchange-lessons/article25784964.ece

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