SCHOOL-LIVE

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Powering With Pens Over Pity
The start of a new term at school brings tons of excitement. The excitement of meeting new classmates and the happiness that comes with the new stationery and books. Most of us don't value the joy that these little things bring, until the time we come across those who don't get a chance to experience it at all. A team of young people in Patiala are tirelessly trying to bring the same joy for the underprivileged slum children to make this a reality for them.
Dec 03, 2018 at 10:09

In today's rather busy and hectic life, we all are caught up in the never ending race to the finish line. Busy in achieving our dreams, and to make sure that our future is secure. But, while running this race have we ever stopped and looked at others around us? In an era when we are so connected with people miles apart, we tend to ignore the needs of those few who are near us, but probably are not as lucky as us.

At times such as these, it is only evident why some organizations leave a mark in our memory. One such organization that has been relentlessly working towards the upliftment of those forgotten few is " Har Hath Kalam India Association". Based out of Patiala, Punjab this NGO was founded by Harsh Kothari, Anupam Sharma and Himanshu Sharma in 2017.

Some of the biggest missions start with the tiniest spark. A cup of tea served to them by "chottu" was what lead to the foundation of HHK. We all have come across so many chottus who work on the road side restaurants that we frequent or are found on the streets while begging. At an age when they should be given books, they are given mops and are told to wait on tables instead. When India is being powered by "Right To Education", this team got to thinking why such a large number of children were still nowhere close to getting an education?

 

You may be privileged to earn for your needs,

But that doesn’t allow you to treat them as weed,

Let’s join our hands and take a step ahead,

Let’s pledge to gift a pen in each of their hands.

 

When the aim is to do good for so many child beggars or labourers one may think that there would be no roadblocks involved. The reality, however, is far from this. When children have been out on the streets begging, they see it as a means of earning a livelihood for themselves and their families. Joining school would mean losing this stream of earnings. When HHK initially started, they realised that children were hesitant to join. Children ran away at the mention of schools and studies. In order to get out of this bottleneck they realised that they first needed to befriend the children and understand where they came from. The initial step of breaking the ice is the most critical and can either make or break the bond. Once the first step is taken they then get involved in some activity or the other like drama or dance.

The other challenge soon came to be that of the families of these kids. Most of the families were such where no one had a stable job to put enough food on the table. The most important thing for HHK was to be able to first analyse why the children were resorting to begging. Was it out of dire need or was it simply that they had gotten used to it?

 

Though based in Punjab, HHK aspires to take this initiative to other cities as well. As they continue to make efforts in their city, they want others to take a pledge of not aiding the child beggars with money. Instead, steer them towards the path of education to see them prosper in the long run.

 

It was a long journey for HHK, and it would not have been possible for them without the help of other agencies to tackle this issue. Along with taking in the children under their wings, they decided to help their families as well, so as to make sure that none of the children returned to the life of begging on the roads. They started identifying the families who were below the poverty line and made it their mission to get them vocational and skill  trainings and then get them employed.

 

Streamlining all this has been one challenge they have faced however, their other responsibilities include monitoring those families once they were identified and helped. To make this possible they realised that they needed more people to join this noble cause. What started off as a journey for a few like minded people, today has grown in leaps and bounds.

With the support of 125 volunteers and around 60 colleges and schools, HHK has started a campaign “Bheekh Hataao”. They have also been awarded the Independence Day Award for the year 2017- 2018 by the State Government for their continuous efforts towards eradicating child begging. Awards like these always help to drive the mission forward, however the best reward for them  is when they see a child on the road to success.

One such success story is that of Sandhya, who had studied till the 9th grade but had to drop out because of family issues. She had the zeal to study which HHK recognized. They immediately got her enrolled in a school and today she has managed to secure a seat in a Government Polytechnic college and is on her way to becoming an architect!

HHK volunteers have realised that there is so much more to life, than living the standard and typical routine that a youngster may follow. Empowering the less privileged people gives joy that is unmatchable. Today, HHK has a mobile application “Har Hath Kalam” available on both Android and Apple. Through which they are motivating others to do their bit.So if you are out on the streets of Patiala and happen to spot a child beggar, rather than giving them money, give them a life of education instead. Take down their details and submit it on the HHK app, and the rest will be taken care of by the team at “Har Hath Kalam”!

 
Sometimes it's the smallest things which bring out those smiles.

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