In 2013 May, we started teaching children of construction labourers who used to work at Swati Sports Complex. Sama, Vadodara. We named it as PATHSHALA: A MOBILE INFORMAL SCHOOL FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN. There were 50 children on an average. The children were from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. We, a group of 8 to 9 volunteers of Srotoshwini, used to go the site to teach them basics of Hindi, English and Mathematics. It was an eye opener for all of us. Though a few of the children attended school, at least they said so, but they did not know anything. There were almost 4 hours classes from Monday to Friday. We carried out different craft activities, music, games Karate etc. We kept uniform for the children. It was a regular serious school with breakfast and lunch. We made two musical videos with these kids. We took them to trips eg trip to zoo, Durga Puja Mandap, Kamatibaug, Hathini Falls etc. We started organizing cultural shows for the parents of these children. The response of the parents was very encouraging. While teaching them, we realized that after a year, on the completion of the Sports Complex, these children would go to another site and their condition would go back to square one. After a series of brainstorming we thought of arranging a hostel for the kids. A philanthropist, donated us two one bedroom flats . We named it as PATHSHALA.com. This is located at Sama, Vadodara. Afterwards two more girls joined the hostel from Footpath Pathshala of Fatehganj and after a few more additions, now we are at a strength of a total of 18 children. These 18 kids go to Navprerna School, which is run by Navrachna Education Trust, Vadodara. The entire responsibility of the 11 kids lies with us. A group of volunteers teach them in the morning and they go to school in the afternoon. They are engaged in other activities as well. They have joined Bal Bhavan, an activity center under Central Government. They learn music, dance and drawing, craft, tennis etc. They are very serious about what they learn. All of them are doing wonderfully well in academics.
Our second step was to start similar kind of Pathshala, with other children those who were in need. Mahavir International, Vadodara chapter, came to help us financially and we set another branch with footpath kids of Fatehganj, Vadodara. Once we got assurance about the financial support, we didn’t think twice. We started Footpath Pathshala, as we call it, in May 2014. Initially there were only 10-15 kids. Afterwards, there were almost 30 kids.The age range is from 4 years to 14years. With the help of Mahavir International, we made the children enrolled in a nearby municipal school. However, they used to study at footpath with the help of a group of volunteers. The response of the passers-by is worth mentioning. Many of them stand and appreciate the efforts. Many of them donated us stationeries. Many of them donated money as well. The overwhelming response of Vadodara people, which we never thought of, keep us more enthusiastic. We got 5 to 6 volunteers who came forward to help us in teaching. At this 3 hours Footpath Pathshala, we used to provide nutritious breakfast and a seasonal fruit everyday. Once the Footpath Pathshala took its shape and started rolling, we started another branch, [email protected], where children needed proper guidance. We started this on 24th September. 2014. Our third branch of Pathshala was opened at Sardar Estate with almost 25 children. Many children go to school though not very regularly. Our motto was to send them to school regularly and help them decide their future. The response was extremely good. There are almost 90 kids who come regularly to our current location, Parushuram Bhatta where we have consolidated the children from all our Footpath Pathshala locations. Their parents are very enthusiastic. All of them want their children to study well. Presently, 70 children have joined Navprerna for their regular studies. All these children are making tremendous progress in academics, sports, creative arts and performing arts. We organize an annual function every year. Along with that we have frequent performances on different occasions like Teacher’s day and other occasions where the children organize their own performances from scratch. Our ultimate goal is not only to provide them all the logistical and academic help for them to do well in school but also to expose them to different aspects of life so that they can choose their own future.