ISM good samaritans, hope for slums

Dhanbad (Jharkhand): An educational initiative by students and teachers of the Indian School of Mines here has given a new meaning to the lives of slum dwellers living nearby. Back in 1999 they started a voluntary organisation, Kartavya, with their own contribution to help slum children get primary education.

They started off by opening an educational centre with just four students on the roll. Now the number has swelled to 500 and the number of centres has increased to three. The students are serving a social cause and have coined a slogan `Each One Teach One`, senior faculty member of the Department of Management, Dr Pramod Pathak, said.

"Engineer ladke sab bachon ko padha rahein hai. Mera beta bhi ek din engineer banega," Phulia Devi, who lives in Mandal Basti, not far from the IIM, and works as a maid servant, says.

Children of two other slums, Lahbani Basti and Barmasia Basti, have also been taken under the folds of Kartavya, Dr Pathak said adding thei endeavour of the ISM students to uplift children of the deprived class should be appreciated by all. .He said at least 160 students have taken up the `mission` to help the children whose parents mostly make a living by working as domestic helps or rickshaw-pullers.

A student, who declined to be identified to avoid the focus on himself when over 300 other students are also putting in their efforts, said, “We have an annual budget of Rs 10 lakh to run educational and vocational centres.“ The funds were donated by students and professors of the ISM. They bear all the expenses like those incurred on buying books, uniforms and paying school fees of those studying in different schools. Now local people of the township have also joined hands with Kartavya to speed up the mission, he said.

Apart from imparting basic education, Kartavya is also engaged in giving vocational training to students, mainly girls, in sewing and knitting. Another student, who also wishes to remain incognito, said they have a plan to buy three computers to help them teach the children. “Not only that, a handicraft teaching section will also be opened in near future,“ he said.

In addition to these efforts, Kartavya has drawn up a plan to uplift women of the slums by proposing to construct a health centre and a recreation centre. The organization is also educating villagers on rain water harvesting techniques, the students said.