A Mumbai school for the underprivileged that takes education to the doorsteps of slum kids, has come up with an interesting initiative to encourage and motivate children to study. This NGO is naming hitherto no-name alleys and narrow streets in the slums after kids who are academic achievers or have made the effort to rise above their circumstances to study.
Signboards are put up on the slum ‘streets’ with the names of these children, who are thrilled to point them out to visitors and residents of their localities.
Pic Source: adageindia.in
The Local Corporators have joined hands in this effort.
The driving force behind the Doorstep School, which initiated this effort, is the duo of Rajani Paranjpe and Bina Sheth Lashkari. They run two chapters of the school – in Mumbai and Pune.
It is not easy being a kid in the slums of Mumbai. Parents have to work day and night to put food on the table, leaving the children to run wild – they often fall into the clutches of local goons and slum lords who lead them astray or into a life of crime. The distractions are many and role models few. In this scenario, efforts by the Doorstep School to engage and educate them so they can better their lives and dream of a future are commendable.
Innovative initiatives like naming roads after children serve the purpose of rewarding kids for their efforts and creating role models for other children to enrol in school. Felicitating them also serves the purpose of getting them to stick with academics and focus on building careers.
The impact of the road-naming exercise has been tremendous. According to ndtv.com, a 27-year-old young man named Rehmuddin Shaikh, a school dropout who grew up to be a state level rugby player and is now doing his B.A., had an alley named after him recently.
“I feel really proud of myself. Because people used to know me but did not know me by my name. But after my name came up on this board…they say, ‘Where should we go today? Let’s go sit at Rehmuddin Shaikh Road'”.
Rehmuddin has become a role model for the young children growing up in these narrow crisscrossing bylanes of the slums.
Pic Source: ndtv.com
Another shining example is Devi Chauhan, a young art teacher who studied only till Class 4, refusing to get married at the age of 15.
“Things are different in our society now. I have only studied till Class 4 but want to study further now. I have to become a well known artist in the future,” she smiles and says.
This road naming activity has so far been carried out in three slum localities of Mumbai – the Balasaheb Ambedkar Nagar Chawl at Cuffe Parade, Hiranandani Akruti Chawl in Govandi and Maharashtra Nagar Rickshaw Stand Chawl in Mankhurd.