When learning enters the crowded array of a footpath, as a rule, it starts small: a few people’s dreams to turn even the most unexpected places into a temple of schooling intermingled with a few children’s devotion towards their books. This magical union can have prolific results; education, after all, is for everyone and it does not need a classroom to animate it.
I saw that last evening while walking back home. As the cold clouds came drooping down, obscuring far off things except headlights, I couldn’t help but notice the sound of kids reciting the alphabets on the footpath.
A few minutes later, curiosity got the best of me and I found myself wanting to know more about the brewing tutelage on the streets. One of the volunteers smiled as she noticed me inquisitively looking at the group and came up to me.
“What is going on here?”, I asked. “We teach kids here every day. All of us volunteers are either students or professionals, who come here in the evening to teach the kids. I joined about two weeks ago”, she replied.
“Since we are not that active financially, we give whatever knowledge we can so that these kids can have a bright future. They need this. They need us. This is why when I saw what was going on here, I knew I wanted to be a part of it”, she continued.
The fusion of knowledge with kids we see on the streets every day- little kids who are forced to skip school in order to work because of poverty- showed their passion for education.
“What do you study here?”, I asked one of the kids.
“Everything!”, he replied with a huge smile on his face.
The group is, more than anything else, a reflection of their thirst for learning. Even the bitter winters wouldn’t stop them from religiously coming here every day.
One Kid’s Love For Knowledge And The Ripple Effect
“I used to hang out here with my friends all the time, just having tea and chilling,” said, Aman, one of the volunteers who started this initiative.
They had noticed a few children selling balloons and even begging on the streets. One of those kids went up to the Aman and his friends one day- bag in one hand, books in the other- with vigorous curiosity. “Can you please teach me something”, she asked them.
It started with one kid and now more than twenty children have started to come here to study.
Aman continued, “After office hours, we started teaching her every day and soon more kids started to join. Since it used to get dark by the time we started, we initially used our mobile flashlights as there are no lighting facilities on this street. This is why we are calling this Flashlight Initiative. We are not a foundation or an organisation. We do this because we want to.”
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Motivating More Kids
Some children also had to be galvanised into studying, and these volunteers did just that. They even spoke to the children’s parents and explained to them the long-term benefits of education.
“We counsel the parents every Sunday. We discuss the progress of the kids. They make sure that the children do their home works,” he asserted.
“Slowly, people started noticing us and even donated mats, and study lamps,” Aman said.
Somewhere between the restaurants and shopping centres, are stories being written and changes being made by the unsung heroes that are a delight to discover. Sometimes, all it takes is a flashlight and a little bit of kindness to bestow upon thousands of people, the eternal light of knowledge.
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