Nitin Jirafe, an engineer with multinational firm has guaranteed tasty meal for the children when they finish their studies every day. He has taken this initiative to ensure that none of the children drops out of school. He wants them to get rid from the life of begging and working on the streets.
It all started on one Saturday morning , Nitin was going to the temple when he came across a group of 12-25 children who were playing on a footpath in Phule Nagar.
He came to know that these kids were associated with Pune-based NGO called Awakening Jagriti. They were attending an open air extra class organized for them.
These kids were the residents of a nearby slum. The NGO had found them doing menial jobs like rag picking and household work, or begging on the streets.
To educate the children, the team at Awakening Jagriti convinced their parents to enroll them in a free Municipal Corporation School nearby. The NGO also came with a creative idea of conducting extra classes after school to teach science and maths in a fun way. This helped students to understand the concepts that they may not learn at school and also prevented them from going back to work. These classes were held from 2-4 pm on weekdays and 9-11 am on Saturdays. Initially, as an incentive for the kids to attend, the NGO provided them with food after the classes. Though the idea was successful, but after some time it started failing because NGO could no longer arrange the required funds for food.
Impressed by the work done by the NGO, Nitin promised to bring food on Saturdays to help them to achieve the target of high attendance on one day of the week at least.
He began taking fruit and snacks for about 20 children to the Saturday morning classes.
In a span of four weeks, Nitin was informed that the strength of the class on Saturdays had gone up from 12-15 kids per day, to about 40 every day since he started bringing in food.
“This is when I decided that I should be doing this all 365 days,” he said.
To start with, Nitin drafted a small story about these children and how he was trying to help them. He shared it with everyone at the multinational organization where he works, asking if people would be willing to contribute.
He was able to collect a sum of Rs 45,000, to which he added another Rs 10,000 from his own pocket.
In the next step, he tied up with an idli
seller near the slum. According to the deal, the seller now packs around 60 idlis every day, and a volunteer from the NGO delivers them to the children. The seller charges Rs 200 per day and thus the amount that Nitin has accumulated is enough for about a year’s worth of food. Nitin says he will continue to do this work and had no plans to stop. He understands the condition of parents of these poor people. Parents of these children cannot afford books and stationery. He has also bought fully stuffed school bags for them with the funds he had collected.
These bags include all the basic text books for their age, along with notebooks, writing pads, drawing books, and pencil pouches.
He has distributed around 40 school bags.
The only condition which he has put in front of them is that they will have to attend school regularly. Those children who are not getting these bags are trying to convince their parents to let them go to school more regularly. One August 10, 2015, Nitin replicated the same model in the Sangvi slum of Pune as well, where the NGO conducts similar classes.
With about 30 regular kids from both the slums, there are a total of 60 who are attending these classes.
As for the food, if the kids get bored of idlis,
Nitin has told the volunteers to pick up anything else from the seller who also makes dosas