“In Hindi the word Samarth means self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want to make these children. While empowering them with knowledge is one way I also want to teach them a skill they can use to create a livelihood for themselves.”
There are superheroes all around us; all we need to do is look closely to identify them. This is a story about Sujata Gaur – who is transforming the lives of many underprivileged children in Gurugram – in her own way.
Sujata has always been involved in social causes. After her move to Gurugram in 2001, she spent two years teaching the children of migrant labourers and domestic workers at a ‘juggi’ close to her house. She mentions how fulfilling her experience of dealing with the children there was.
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We, at The Better India, spoke to Sujata, who told us about how she went from teaching the children at their homes to founding ‘Samarth’ in her own home.
“I was happy teaching the kids at the ‘juggi’. A friend of mine was looking to teach children, and I was happy to put her in touch with the juggi children I was working with. That was when I thought I could start teaching the kids of migrant labourers near my own home. There was never a dearth of children who needed help.”
Sujata started teaching three kids in her home in 2016, and from that, the number grew to 10. Today she has more than 25 children coming to her regularly. “More than teaching them I feel like having them come to my home keeps them away from crimes and safe from becoming victims of domestic violence.”
When asked why she named the school ‘Samarth’, she says, “In Hindi the word Samarth means self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want to make these children. While empowering them with knowledge is one way I also want to teach them a skill they can use to create a livelihood for themselves.”
The school is functional on all days; Monday through Sunday. “On Sunday’s we don’t do anything academic related. I spend time with the children talking to them, telling them stories with a moral value attached to it, groom them, teach them dancing and singing. It is my exclusive time with them.”
The youngest student at Samarth is all of 3.5 years of age, and the oldest is 15, says Sujata. “We are working with these kids to equip them to fit into mainstream schools.”
“Often these kids come from remote villages with their parents and are unable to even comprehend basic instructions. We work on making them confident to be at school,” she says.
What Sujata does in her school is to bring these children up-to-speed with the level of education that the schools in Gurugram provide. Once they reach that level, she gets them admitted into formal schools.
Story of change
“Abhisekh was a very mischievous 12-year-old who did not have any interest in studying. He would constantly trouble his mother and get into trouble for it. He came to me to study and vanished in between for an extended period.
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The next I saw him was a day before his examinations. He came to me seeking help saying his mother had sold all his books to the ‘raddiwala’ in a fit of anger. While I was unable to help him that year for his exams, I am happy that he spent the next year working hard and he is now in a formal school doing well,” says Sujata.
The change in behaviour that comes in is the biggest victory according to Sujata.
Sujata hopes to send more children into the formal schools this year. She requests readers to contribute stationary and story books for the children who are currently enrolled with her. Those living in Gurugram could also volunteer their time to teach the children a new skill.
If you wish to reach out to Sujata, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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