Deepak Buch, a 72-year-old, and his 65-year-old wife, Manjari Buch, residents of Ahmedabad, spend almost six hours each day with students of Classes 3-10.
No, they are not professional teachers.
Buch was a former employee of the Gujarat State Finance Corporation until 2004 when he retired.
Wanting to spend their free time in a meaningful manner, the couple decided to take on the task of providing education to those bright students who did not have the means to attend a formal school.
In 2005, they started an organisation named Dada-Dadi ni Vidhya Parab to provide coaching to children and youth from low-income families free of cost.
The Better India spoke to Buch to understand the work that the organisation does, and the impact it has had on the lives of these students.
“Even before my retirement, my wife and I had decided that we would spend our time working for the upliftment of the kids who do not have access to good quality education,” recollects Buch.
In 2005, despite no experience in teaching, Buch and his wife started tuition classes in their home for the children of domestic workers and unskilled labourers.
There were a grand total of five children.
“Our motto was to assist the children to build up their careers, as they were the first generation of kids who were even attending school. Their parents were keen on making them study, and the children are equally enthusiastic about it,” he says.
The reason that they were able to grow from 5 students in their first batch to almost 150 to 200 students in each batch now can be solely attributed to the dedication that this couple brings to the cause.
There have been several social events and family functions that they have forgone only to be able to continue with the classes.
One look at their social media page will give you an idea of how much fun the students have in these classes. Buch says, “While we teach them, we also spend a lot of time with each child nurturing them and telling them stories with strong moral values. It is this that will hold them in good stead.”
Students of Classes 3-7 come at 7.30 a.m. and are there until 10.30 a.m., while students of Classes 8-10 come at 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays are off.
When asked why they have chosen not to set up an NGO, Buch says, “We want to consciously stay away from money matters and have managed to function this way for the last 14 years. When we see the potential in our students, we approach private donors who come forward and support their education. We also have regular donors who sponsor stationary and other things that the children need.”
What started with just two teachers now enjoys the support of many within the community.
Shedding light on this, Buch says, “There is a class for drawing and crafting which a lady from the community conducts once a week, a faculty member of IIM-A comes for the last two years to help students with basic life skills, and then there is another retired scientist from ISRO who teaches the children computer science.”
Buch attributes the success to all these people who come together and devote their time and energy in shaping the future of these children.
“In all these years we have not faced any difficulty in running the place. Whenever we needed anything, there were more people than we needed to help us out. It has been a smooth journey,” he says with a proud smile.
Students of higher grades are also sent for personality development sessions and summer internship programmes at Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA).
Buch singles out a former student, Monika Bahusar, for praise. “Her father was a flower vendor, and she came to us when she was rather young. Today she is a qualified engineer who is working and earning well. It is wonderful to see children like her doing so well in life, and this is what keeps us motivated to work with more students.”
If you would like to support this cause or reach out to Deepak Buch, you can do so by clicking here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)