I often sit and plan my life post-retirement. And I find that some elements commonly feature in these plans–a good book, a cup of hot filter coffee and a comfortable chair. The general idea is a picture of relaxation.
The gentleman I spoke to a little while ago retired about ten years ago and perhaps leads a busier life post-retirement than when he was managing global internal audits for a large pharmaceutical company.
Satish Kumar Chawla founded the NuLife Foundation Charitable Trust in 2007 to provide opportunities and self-reliance to underprivileged children through free quality education and vocational training.
In an exclusive interview with The Better India, he speaks about his motivation behind starting this, how he manages to keep going, and the children for whom he has established the school.
“About two years before my retirement. I started getting actively involved in social causes. Since I spent most of my younger days ensuring that I provided well for my family, I wanted to do something meaningful for those less fortunate,” he says.
In 2010, he came across a group of women who would teach some underprivileged children under a tree in one of the apartment complexes in Gurugram. They provided the kids with books and stationery and would be there to teach them through rain or sun.
The seeds of NuLife were sown then.
Along with these volunteers in 2011, NuLife set up the first centre offering quality education for underprivileged kids and called it Project Disha. “A great idea does not need a room to materialise, all it requires is a dream and some determination,” says Satish.
While this project was doing well, one question that would often plague him is, “What will these kids do once they complete their education? Go back to work as maids and helpers? That was in 2012 when the first vocational training centre was set up in Badshahpur, Gurugram. The programme intended to empower the children, make them more self-reliant and ensure that they do not go back to the same life.”
Current school strength
The school has 290 students today, from nursery until class 5. With pride, Satish says, “We ensure that we provide the kids with uniforms, books, and even quality stationery. To ensure that the parents are committed to sending their children to school, we urge them to contribute Rs 100 monthly.”
He continues, “The best feeling for us is to see these kids go out and achieve so much in their lives. Jeetender was one our students who after completing class 10 has become a successful property dealer in Gurugram.”
With each student of NuLife doing well, the teachers and the founders feel an immense sense of pride.
“Some of the kids are very sharp. I can say with conviction that there is no difference in intellect between our kids and those from less privileged backgrounds. If given the same opportunities, these kids will do equally well in life,” he says.
Here’s how you can help
If you are a resident of Gurugram, you could volunteer your time, thereby helping the students. Satish says, “We would be glad if people came in to teach English and Mathematics. All other subjects are also welcome. However, we see that these two subjects need a lot more work.”
For more details about the organisation, visit their website here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)