Yesterday, I was watching Support My School campaign on NDTV. And more than the dance and drama, the talks and the celeb jigs (they are important too), it was the stories of children, teachers and schools that leap out. Oh yes, we are aware of how difficult things are in smaller towns and villages – the state of the schools if they exist, infrastructure, teaching and the quality of learning. Yet, when you see individual stories, it hits you in another way.
What so many of us take for granted with our private schools is pipe dream for these young kids whose parents are too poor for them to even send them to schools. It is not as if the private schools are without their problems, but we can’t begin to think what the problems are for government schools. Education is what makes a difference in your life. But the education some of these kids get is a mockery of learning. A Pratham study of 2009 states “Nearly 65% of class V students in rural areas of Tamil Nadu can’t read even a class II textbook in their mother tongue, 45% don’t know subtraction and nearly 81% can’t read simple English sentences.”
And the story is no better in other states. This when we take a lot of pride in Indian education system because Indians are appreciated all over the world for their knowledge and prowess. Go to Pratham.org for more reports and surveys about Indian education.
When you see twinkling eyes that thirst for reading and learning being devoid of that opportunity, it moves your heart. If only we could help!
Yes, I contributed to the cause. I know it is a small step. I want to do much more. But, at least let us take an initial step. Given the constraints that my own life puts on me, I feel that such initiatives give an opportunity for all of us to contribute in a small way to bring about social change. Yes, we can be cynical but does that help anyone? We all demand change? But, who will bring about the change? Can we conveniently look at the government, the NGOs, Corporates and celebrities and wash our hands of all social responsibility? No, we cannot and we must not.
There are many ways in which each of us can do our little bit. We begin by starting at home – treating our helpers with respect, paying them fairly and helping out in their own lives. Can we help in educating one kid or at least contribute in the education of our maid’s children? Some of us can help with teaching poor kids over the weekend if we have the time or the inclination. Some others can volunteer in other ways. And, we can support causes that are close to our hearts. If nothing else, we can loosen our purse strings a bit. It does not take much. We often blow up more on clothes or an outing in a fancy restaurant but when it comes to giving for good causes we become miserly. It is a question of opening our hearts and taking responsibility for helping out the not so fortunate among us. Instead of putting money in a temple hundi, please feed a poor child or contribute to his/her health or education. It will be money well spent.
Here are some important statistics:
“The India Giving report – the largest survey ever undertaken into giving in a single country found that most people in India – 84% of the 836 million adults – give at least once a year. Within this figure, 71% gave solely or partly for religious reasons, but by contrast, only 12% had given for reasons not linked to religion.” We need to think about this. If there is a God, He/She resides in each one of us. Help us redeem that God in our children!
The Support My School campaign helps in bettering the infrastructure in government school in small towns and villages of India. They help build separate toilets for girls and boys, and provide clean drinking water, playground, libraries etc. You can donate by going here:
Other charities close to my heart are:
Akshay Patra Foundation: They help in providing fresh hot mid-day meals to children in government schools across India. This initiative has single handedly kept many kids in school because for some of them, this is the only nutritious meal that they get in a day. And, no one can learn on an empty stomach. This initiative also hopes to address malnutrition that India battles on a huge level. I wrote about Akshay Patra earlier. Here is the link to my previous post.
Light a Million Lives – Teri: This campaign aims at lighting up the darkest of Indian villages by providing solar lanterns. This is again a cause close to my heart and I have been supporting them.
Whatever be the cause you support, do something in your own small way to make a difference. Begin small. Take a baby step. Do whatever you can afford to do but do make an effort.
Update: Since many commenters have expressed a valid concern about the credibility of NGOs and how funds will be utilized, I feel it is best that one does a bit of research and checks the credentials and track record of the said NGO. One also must keep track of how they utilize the funds as well as ask for periodic updates. We must check their websites and get more information about funds utilization. The point of my post is not to peddle any cause. I just shared what I have been supporting but most importantly, I hope that each one of us recognizes the importance of giving. Giving in any form is beneficial both to the giver and the society.
PS: This is NOT a paid post. All the views and opinions stem from my heart. And I am not looking to make any money out of endorsing names.