Sanuj bit his lower lip as he peered through the tiny peep-hole on the wall of the teachers' meeting room. He could hear the teachers furiously arguing inside. He tried to make sense of their words, but for a five-and-half-year-old, they spoke too fast for him to comprehend. But whatever bits and pieces he could understand only stood to confirm the rumour that had been going around for a few days now. Nine-year old Adisha had first heard it from Khurram Chacha, the friendly uncle who cooked biriyani for them every Friday. Though he had mentioned it in passing, a shocked Adisha had mentioned it to her younger brother, who them faithfully passed the news along, and very soon the kids were in a state of panic.
A sudden gust of dry, hot wind rushed through the open corridors and Sanuj was forced to step back from the wall. He vigorously rubbed his right eye, trying to agitate out the dust particles that the breeze had deposited in his eye. His ears perked up at the distant sound of rubber chappals slapping against the cement floor of the corridor. He would get into trouble if someone knew he’d been snooping. Grabbing hold of the tattered cloth bag that held all his belongings, he rushed barefoot across the verandah and out into the large open courtyard. Hopping and skipping over the burning stones that adorned the unkempt and dusty courtyard, he made his way towards the giant banyan tree in the corner.
Trying to catch his breath, he lay down under the tree and gazed at the thick branches that intertwined with each other, almost blocking out the sun in its entirety. He took a deep breath, inhaling the humid, dry air around him. On a whim, he sat up and brought his cloth satchel onto his lap. Shuffling through the eclectic contents, he pulled out a children’s book, that had definitely seen better days. The cover was tattered and corners of the pages were curled and yellowing. In fact, some of the pages were so brittle that Sanuj had to be extremely careful while turning them, so they wouldn't crumble up like confetti. But it was his book and he cherished it. Well, in reality it was someone else’s book that had been donated to them. But he’d picked it from the giant box that that Dubey Sir, the head teacher, had brought and it was always by his side. He gently opened the book and took a whiff of the pages. It smelled warm, dusty and moist; just like the bark of banyan tree he was lying under.
He didn’t know why, but the scent of the book brought a smile on his face. Closing his eyes and clutching the book tightly, Sanuj lay down under the large banyan tree. He still remembered the day they’d come home. Well, he called it home, but in reality it was nothing more than a dilapidated shed he shared along with his parents and four other sibling. He’d been with his sister, Kalya, in the forest behind their home, trying to forage for anything remotely edible. Even as they’d examined a strange looking root, they’d heard the loud roar of the jeep. Curious to find who it was, they’d headed back and had found two well-dressed middle-aged men in their courtyard, talking to their father, Madhu. Sanuj remembered how amused he’d been to see his father shake his head vehemently at whatever it was that these men had requested of him. Eventually , when they handed over a large sack of rice and some provisions, for the first time in his life, he saw his father break down. Later, he would come to know that those men were from a nearby NGO. They were donating rations to every family and in return, were requesting that they send all the kids in their household to the school they had set up a few kilometres away.
And that’s how he and his siblings had ended up coming to this school run by the NGO, two years ago. Today, most of the kids in their village could read, write and even communicate well. But all that was about to change. Because, if the rumour that they’d all heard was true, then the school was going to shut down, because of lack of funding. A few tiny tears formed on the sides of Sanuj's closed eyes, and rolled down the sides of his cheeks. He did not want to go back to scavenging through the dangerous forests for food. Or for his brothers to do the odd-jobs at the chemical factory down the hill. Or for his sisters to go into town with his mother every day, and work as domestic help. They all enjoyed coming to this school and learning. They loved the books and the little lessons they were taught every day.
If only, someone would fund their school.
What if you could? Would you?
What if I told you that the above story isn’t fiction? What if I told you that it is a true story? A slice of life from a land not too far away from where you are? And what if I told you that together, we could all make sure that kids like Sanuj could continue to get their education and have a better life?
Yes, it’s true. A bulk of our country people are underprivileged and cannot afford even the most basic things. Across India, there are a number of NGOs, comprising of people from all walks of life - yes, people like you and me - who strive tirelessly to help these underprivileged people. Aham Bhumika is one such NGO.
Who are Aham Bhumika?
Aham Bhumika is an NGO. A group of like-minded people, from all walks of life - artists, housewives, engineers, tourist guides, teachers, government employees - who have come together to help uplift the underprivileged in rural areas of India.
What do they do?
These are some of the things they do:
- Collect clothes from donors & distribute them to those in needs - like the kids in Anganwadi and schools, adolescent girls and widows in villages
- Prepare sanitary napkins from donated cotton clothes & distribute them to village women who can’t afford to have even a clean piece of cloth during menstruation.
- Collect grain for ‘Grain Bank’ and provide it to the destitute, disabled and orphans living in villages. In exchange, the only thing they ask are to enrol the children in schools ; They even take the effort to deliver vocational training for the destitute and disabled and help them earn a better living
- College books from donors and establish informal libraries in the villages, helping the kids develop the joy of reading.
[You can read more about everything they do here]
As in the story above, the pre-school that Aham Bhumika runs in Borda, Bhopal, is facing an acute shortage of funds. Despite all their best efforts, they are struggling to fund their on-going rural-preschool program. While a lot of generous individuals have been helping them stay afloat all this while, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to fund this project.
Presently, there are 40 rural children from the underprivileged category who attend this pre-school. As you can imagine, all of them, kids like Sanuj in the story above, look forward to going to school and learning, in the hopes of a better future. But without extra funding, all their dreams and hopes will vanish. Aham Bhumika say that they need a minimum of Rs. 14000 a month, to meet the expenses of the pre-school. This is where we come in.
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So what can we do?
Of course, the first thing is you could pick up your wallets or handbags and donate some cash towards the school fund. Remember, no amount is too big or too small, and every little helps. After all, it all goes towards a good cause and education.
Here are the details you’d need :
Online bank transfer/ Cheque payments can be done using following information:
A/c name: Aham Bhumika Swayam Sevi Sanstha
SAVINGS ACCOUNT NO. 2073101015874
IFSC Code- CNRB0002073
Bank - CANARA BANK
Branch - MAHARANA PRATAP NAGAR, BHOPAL
All donations are tax exempted under Section 80-G of Income Tax of India.
Additionally, you could also contribute to Aham Bhumika in the following ways:
- If you’re in Bhopal, volunteer with them and share your skills and knowledge to help others
- You could also donate clothes, books, toys and grains to their collection centres in Bhopal.
- Or if you’re really feeling iffy to donate stuff, you could buy some of these amazing rural merchandise that they sell.[gallery type="slideshow" link="none" ids="3356,3357,3358,3359,3360,3361,3362"] From hand embroidered cushion covers to gorgeous paintings to hand-painted shoes, there are plenty of items that’ll tickle your fancy. You can check them out either on their blog, or their Facebook or Twitter pages. Alternatively you can also email them at : firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and find out how you can contribute.
PS. This is not a sponsored post. We’re all doing it to spread the word and in the hope that together, we can support NGOs like Aham Bhumika who are trying to help the underprivileged live a more meaningful life.