After having faced financial challenges as a student, Sandeep Mehto started an initiative called Bharat Calling which enables rural youth to pursue higher education courses of their choice. The initiative guides the students and links them to the right universities. Know more about his interesting project and also learn how you can help him reach out to and help a lot more students.
“Every day, the teachers would ask me to stand out of the class because I had not paid the school fee,” recalls Sandeep Mehto. He and his family had high hopes for his future but not enough financial cushioning to back it up.
In order to not compromise on the quality of education, they admitted Mehto into a private school whose high fees and expenditures were something Mehto’s family could ill afford. “After schooling, getting into a decent college was again an uphill task. These challenges can only be understood by someone who has faced financial restrictions,” says Mehto.
When Sandeep was in the final year of his graduation course, his father passed away due to a heart attack on the day of Diwali. His death further strengthened Sandeep’s resolve to work in the sector he wanted.
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Somehow, Mehto managed to obtain his engineering degree from SATI Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, and later completed his masters in social entrepreneurship from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. “When I first shifted to Mumbai, I got a culture shock. It took me a while to adjust to the big city and as it was the first time that I had moved out from my hometown, it was very difficult for me initially,” says Mehto.
Mehto, who once struggled for getting a decent education himself, is today helping thousands of young students to get access to quality education and decent job opportunities through his interesting initiative “Bharat Calling”.
“Because I have been through the same, I can understand the challenges and problems these students face. I can relate to them and that is why I thought of starting an initiative like this rather than going for a job that gave me a regular paycheck,” says Mehto.
The desire to change the fate of people from lesser advantaged communities inspired Mehto to launch this initiative in 2009 with one school and a batch of 50 students. Today, the project works in 932 villages with a team of five core members and 200 volunteers who have helped over 42,000 students on a regular basis.
Bharat Calling is a platform that gives students from economically and socially weaker backgrounds an opportunity to opt for the courses they wish to pursue, pushing their aspirations a notch higher.
“I believe that if you are bringing any kind of change, then you are destined to do so. I cannot think of doing anything else but this,” says Sandeep.
Bharat Calling conducts various awareness sessions at government schools in rural areas. They invite applications from interested students and organize summer camps to impart different skills and training to the rural youth. The initiative is currently funded and supported by Shri Ramesh Prakash Samajik Sansthan based in Pathrota village of Hoshangabad district of M.P. Sandeep is also looking for more funders to help his cause.
“80 percent students drop out of school even before completing their class 10th. The idea is to empower school dropouts, people belonging to SC/STs and other weaker communities to aspire big. We are seeking out talented youth and providing them a platform to fulfill their dreams,” says Mehto.
They approach 10-15 schools and only take genuinely interested candidates from there. After completion of the training, a follow-up is done to check their progress and provide any help they might require.
Mehto has collaborated with the government for conducting programmes in government schools. They give a 45-minutes awareness session in each school. Applications are collected from interested students and they are then assisted in applying to various universities as per their preferences.
During a 45-days summer camp, Mehto and his team prepare students for various entrance exams. The students indulge in different extra-curricular activities which also build confidence in them. Several meetings, counselling sessions and gatherings are organized to help students cope with various academic and social issues.
Regular checks and follow-ups are done to ensure that students are following the required guidelines. Later on, these students are linked to various scholarships which help them afford the fees of universities and colleges.
“Even though at many places education is not taken seriously, there are students who also aim to become IAS officers or IIT engineers. We are making sure that they don’t give up on their dreams due to lack of financial and other support,” says Mehto
Mehto has started a fundraising campaign on Milaap to give shape to his plans of helping this lesser advantaged youth. He is raising a sum of Rs.5,00,000 which will be used to organize 20 summer camps in 150 schools in different parts of Madhya Pradesh. A sum of Rs.25,000 is allocated for every camp which will cover the entire cost of project including food, accommodation for volunteers, inviting applications, spreading awareness, providing the required skills, etc. These camps will benefit over 1,000 students to take admission in colleges of their own choice. In the future, he wants to expand his initiative and replicate this model in other states too.
Click here to donate to Mehto’s campaign and help over 1000 students to take admission in colleges of their choice.
You can contribute an amount as low as Rs.500. To know more, check out his campaign page and watch the video below.