Daily Archives: November 14, 2019

#YoungChangemakers: This Chote Master Is Enabling Children To Get Back To School

Chote Master’! That’s what Little Children from slum communities of Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh would call the zealous Anand Mishra the 15-year-old boy, a class 11 student from Lucknow. A named Anand earned for his relentless work in education, he has motivated more than 50,000 children to study through his program ‘Bal Chaupal’. 

Anand’s tryst with helping children get education began when he was a little boy of just 8. In 2012, when Anand visited the heritage site of Ellora, he was moved to see a child study amidst a street lamp in the temple. He then offered him Rs 500 through his father which the boy refused to take. Surprised by the selflessness the boy showed, he then asked the temple priest who requested the young boy to take his help. The event stayed in his heart and during his return to Lucknow, he saw many slum children loitering around who should have been in school.

He gathered a few such students and started studying with them. While initially, only a handful of students came to study with him, eventually, a lot more students started coming. With this he started ‘Bal Chapual’ that aims to educate children along with performing activities around sports and drama. Today, at least 100 children come to the study center in Lucknow. “I try to teach my friends in a friendly manner. Sharing interesting stories and organising games for them are some of the ways to make learning fun. I try to make sure that they don’t get bored. Some of these kids don’t like the way they are taught in school just because it is boring. This is also the reason some, even after being enrolled, don’t go to school regularly,” says Anand, in an interview in Your Story

The confident 15-year-old along with his parents who work in the UP police had initiated ‘Chalo Padho Abhiyan’ where they were inviting the educated to support the education of at least one child. Realising the need to support the education of the girl child, they also initiated a programme ‘Chalo Bahan, School Chalo’ which has been well received by the community.

As Anand wanted to get a deeper understanding of the education system, he travelled to around 150 rural villages to motivate children to study and helped 758 get enrolled in various schools. However, with the pressure of Class 11 and exams, Anand now visits the villages once a week and has people who regularly visit the study centre that ensures children are being educated.   

Anand’s work has been recognised not just by the locals but he has even been recognised by the Uttrakhand government, which awarded him with the Youth Icon award in 2015 and he has also been nominated for the International Peace Award Twice.  

Anand’s dream is to make everyone educated and his future plans include getting enrolled into an IIT and further help children to seek education. 

Being Raised Grandmother’s Daughters

Nontraditional families are no longer considered uncommon in our society. Many children are raised by their aunts and uncles, older siblings and distant relatives, and most are handed over to the care of their grandparents, while both parents set off to work each day.

The stories of children without parents often take a different narrative. It’s why Khuo and Lamveni call themselves their grandmother’s daughters, but still wonder what life would have been like with their mother around.

In the forest area of the Village of Chongchin, 100 kms from the District of Churachandpur in Manipur live Khuolnumhoih (Khuo) and Lamveni. 10 and 7 years old respectively, these sisters, lost their mother when they were much younger to a life-threatening illness, and their father decided to marry someone else, leaving them to the care of their grandmother. Their aged 65-year-old grandmother, Lhailam, works around the clock to raise her girls.

Unlike most future plans of young girls, Khuo and Lamveni are certain to care for their grandmother when she grows older. “I will study until 10th grade and then look after my grandmother. Anyway, we don’t have money for me to study beyond that,” says Khuo, who has decided she will continue to live in her village, focus her efforts on collecting wood and vegetables from the forest to earn a livelihood, but not get involved in farming, as she doesn’t like it!

On the flip side, Lamveni doesn’t like living in her village. “People are not good here,” she said, feeling the loss of her mother and her father leaving her too. “The people of the village don’t care for us,” she adds, knowing that all parents are busy raising their own children. Lamveni wants to grow up to be a nurse, and leave her village for further studies. “I will take my grandmother with me to the city and take good care of her!

The stress of raising her grand daughters with a meagre salary of 600 rupees a month is tiring for Lhailam, who often worries about their future. “I cannot even afford to take them to the hospital when they are ill. Hospital is too far away in city and I don’t have enough to pay for the doctor’s fees. I buy medicine from the medical store (over the counter) in the village and give them only that.” A woman of great courage and faith, she says, “till I am alive I will feed them and after me they will learn to take care of themselves. God will help them.”

Lhailam works to provide for her granddaughters, in the best of her capacity, and both Khuo & Lamveni love her dearly. But watching other children being cared for by their mothers, they long for their own, almost feeling a sense of emptiness without her presence.