It is sad that in spite of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ been there as a flagship Govt. program for more than a decade, there are millions of underprivileged children today in the streets of India who still do not have access to elementary education. A group of students from Delhi University taking cognizant of this situation came together to form G3S (Gram Swawlambi Swadesi Swaraj) Foundation with the objective of educating the slum children free of cost and helping them grow to be a productive workforce for the country. Deepak Kumar, Secretary – G3S through SPO India magazine appeals to everyone to come forward and help them in their selfless act of eradicating literacy from the lower rung of the society once and for all –
Please tell us something about G3S Foundation?
We are a group of 17 student from Delhi University who came together to form ‘Gram Swawlambi Swadesi Swaraj (G3S)’ foundation. We had this belief that we should be self dependent, and only then will we get complete autonomy in doing something in life. So if all the students and the people who belong to villages and rural areas prepare themselves to be self reliant and if they are able to stand on their own, then there is nothing that can stop them from succeeding. There are thousands of such youth who cannot get that opportunity to reach to Delhi University or any prestigious universities in India.
We ourselves come from a rural background and so when we came across this situation, we thought of doing something for such students, for those who cannot get an opportunity to rise in life. So we have a 3 E concept – first is environment, 2nd is education and 3rd is empowerment. These are the 3 areas where we are working in.
How did you start G3S foundation? Please elaborate.
I met my friend Anil when we were working for the community radio of University of Delhi as media correspondents. Both of us belong to Bihar. We got to know each other and during the course of our friendship, we found out that both of us have faced a similar situation of not getting proper guidance and opportunities and it was then that we thought of forming G3S foundation. I would also like to mention about Dolly Rajput who is also from Delhi University. When I came to DU in 2013, she was my only friend and through her I came to know about her mother ‘Kusum Ji’ who has been teaching poor slum children for free for the last 12 years. Taking inspiration from her, we decided to open an organization which can help such students who do not get the chance to go to school and college. So this is how we came up with G3S.
“People denied teaching slum children because they are dirty and are ill mannered. But the fact that they are dirty is because they clean our ‘filth’. And it’s our responsibility to teach them because only an educated youth can drive India towards a better tomorrow. And it’s really painful that in my 12 years journey I have only got taunts instead of help.” – Kusum
Who all is working with you? Do you get any help from the university?
We have with us the support of professors from DU like Prof Suraj Yadav and especially Prof Manish Kumar who guided us throughout. And about the volunteers, we have our founder members from DU, Maharashtra, North India, North-east, Kerala and from other states as well. To register as an NGO we need to have our presence in at least 7 states; because we have lots of students in DU coming in from different states, we have received a considerable amount of support from many students coming from different places and hence could register our organization under Society Act 1860.
However our organization is very new as it got registered on 18th of July, 2016.
Tell us about the activities you have done so far for the slum children.
We keep doing sport activities, cultural activities and mathematic activities to keep them engaged and help developing their inner self. Because their parents are unable to provide for their educations, we are trying our level best to give them whatever is possible at our level and groom them to be better individuals.
In our academy we have included orphans, single parent children, slum children and children who are working on the streets under the vendors. For these students, short term activities can make them enthusiastic and help them to grow and live a positive life.
How do you mobilise the funds to organise such activities?
It is from DU we have learnt of how to manage low budget events. We have a 0 budget policy so that we can do the activities even without funds. For every event we need Rs 5,000-6,000 at least, so that money comes from our pocket money, our tuition fee, our salary etc. We are totally self reliant. Since we are still students we don’t know how these big NGOs or their umbrella agencies get funds. So if in future somebody helps us, then we are ready to collaborate; but right now we have been in partnership with Roshan Dan and Sahayta, United Religions Initiative (URI) who is working in 100 countries. However we didn’t get any funding but they keep motivating us. And even today when we organised International Yoga Day for the slum children, Hari Om Jindal who is known as the slum guru of India, came as a chief guest and he also motivated us.
What response you get from the people and parents of the children, as you are running an open sky school?
We are running an open sky school for last 3 years for those students who indulged themselves in drugs, bad activities and playing cards on the street. They got attracted to such activities because they don’t have the money and the right platform needed for education. And parents and guardians of these children initially were also not supporting them. Take the example of Dheeraj, whose parents are working in a factory and they were not supportive of his education because they think that education is not important and they are happy in whatever situation they are. But when they saw that we are doing all free of cost, and not charging them anything, they started sending their children to us and now they are happy that their kids are being groomed to be better human beings.
What is your roadmap? Are you planning anything big or innovative?
We are going to plan our first national slum school because there are 93 million children who stay in slums, according to the data presented in 2011 and they do not have access to good education. Our aim is to collaborate with people or organizations who take interest in providing slum education, so that we can provide them a better life. And help them to grow!