Moved by seeing kids going to school barefoot in chilly December weather, young Jalore (Rajasthan) collector, Jitendra Kumar Soni started an innovative scheme that will help underprivileged kids to have shoes free of cost ahead of this Republic Day.
Soni, who named this innovative scheme the ‘Charan Paduka Yojna,’ decided to distribute shoes to nearly 25,000 underprivileged children in the first week of January. For its timely delivery, he has set the deadline as January 26.
This young IAS officer is a native of Dhanasar village near Rawatsar in Hanumangarh and comes from a humble background.
Soni is passionate to do something for those who face hardships in life, which also reflects in his personality and work.
Soni is son of a hard-working watchmaker, and remembers well how his father worked extra hard just to put his sons through school so they could to get quality education.
Remembering that time Soni said:
“I also attended a government school and know the hard work my father had put in to get me educated. I always wore clothes stitched by a tailor and never visited a big city.”
Remembering that time, when he saw few kids heading to school without shoes last year, Soni immediately took them to a nearby market and bought a few pairs of shoes for them.
Recalling that visit, he said:
“..I had tears in my eyes when I saw three students coming to the school without shoes in the shivering cold. Teachers of the government school told me that these children are very poor and their parents couldn’t even afford their books.”
Soni said he was so shocked and moved by their plight that it triggered the launch of ‘Charan Paduka Yojna,’ scheme, in which he got many volunteers, school authorities and gram panchayats involved.
“This incident triggered the launch of the scheme. I told the school authorities of 274 gram panchayats and three nagar palikas in my district to give me a detailed report on how many students come without shoes. As normal, non-branded school shoes cost just between Rs 200 and Rs 300, I thought people would help me if I ask them for support.”
After a detailed survey in his district it was revealed that on an average 10 students in each of 2,500 schools went barefoot and that they were in need of nearly 25,000 pair of shoes.
With a round figure in hand and with the help of donors, Soni launched the scheme in full force in the first week of January.
To make sure that these kids got the shoes in time, Soni had asked the authorities to ensure a speedy delivery and make sure that all these kids got their pair of shoes on or before January 26.
Not stopping there, Soni has already set up the next phase of this initiative and has planned to also gift these kids shoes for summers, on or before Independence Day this year.
Not forgetting the people who came out to help his initiative, Soni also appreciated all the donors and said that some teachers were so touched by this initiative that they themselves took charge and ensured that their wards weren’t left in a position that they had to come to school without shoes.