On 26/11, Chief Ticket Inspector SK Sharma was one of the many people who lost his life in the Mumbai terror attacks. Sharma was rushing home that night to spend his son, Aditya’s birthday with him. Unfortunately, he got shot and succumbed to his injuries.
A month after this gruesome act, the Sharma family founded an organisation, Shaheed Sushil Kumar Sharma Foundation, in their hometown, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, in his memory. The chief aim of this organisation is to support the education and empowerment of Adivasi girl children. It now offers free education to girls belonging to weak socio-economic backgrounds, alongside a handful of courses in painting and self-defence, among others.
Aditya was a student of Class 7 when he lost his father. Speaking to The Better India, he talks about the organisation and his journey.
“I wasn’t sure of what was happening and fell asleep after waiting for him to return home. I woke up at 4 a.m. and heard my mother and some other relatives crying. Even then the magnitude of what had happened did not strike me,” he says.
When asked why the foundation came into being, he says,
“The one thing that we, the family, were sure of was that his memory must be kept alive by doing something that he would have liked and supported.”
“Creating a foundation and helping others was how we thought that could be achieved and that is why we started the organisation within a month of his death.”
Speaking about the beginning, he says, “Initially the contributors were just the immediate family members. I remember we started the foundation with three children. Today, we are supporting over 350 children.”
Each girl child at the foundation is taught self-defence techniques and also given adequate training in all the necessary life skills.
“We periodically hold various competitions to encourage the girls to do better. We want to equip them with all the necessary skills,” he said.
Aditya’s mother, Ragini Sharma, has personally adopted five girl children from the school and will be sponsoring their education until the very end. “One of the reasons that we adopted these girls was because of their enthusiasm and zest for life. While most other girls were shy and took time to open up, the five girls we sponsor were full of life and wanted to engage with us. Despite not having access to the best education and infrastructure, these five girls scored above 90% in their examinations. We certainly feel that they deserve to be encouraged and pushed forward,” he says.
While the family has undoubtedly faced some painful and challenging times, what has kept them going is the strong bond they share with each other.
If you wish to find out more about the foundation, click here.