The kids that you see by the roadside at every traffic light in India are not just beggars. They are the future of this country. Their population rises and their dreams get trampled by the lack of resources such as food, shelter and education.

They are not incompetent and neither do they have low IQs. In fact, I could vouch for the fact that some of them are more intelligent that the Mercedes owners who overlook their presence. This is an issue I have written about time and again, and yet I feel more in tune with the realities of their world now.

For the past couple of weeks, my friend, Sachit, and I have been frequenting an NGO that works towards education and empowerment of all. This NGO runs a small school in a rather busy village of Devli. For the Delhiites, it may seem unreal that such a rundown area actually exists in our national capital.

This is where the underprivileged children come to gain some knowledge and complement what they are learning in the Government Schools of India. With their backpacks, they bring their dreams and their aspirations. They struggle to learn because in their world, teachers barely come to school, and if they do come at all, they have almost 200 students to teach at one time. They are nameless in their classrooms… just faces that the teacher looks at while he/she scribbles on the board. They wonder what the teacher is scribbling, because for the most part, they have not yet mastered the art of reading.

It is when I meet these children in groups of 10 that I realize what a bright future India could have. In three hours of play with us, these fifth graders have managed to learn more about phonetics and spellings than they have in their lifetime at school.

So you wonder why they are still lagging behind? It’s because all of us choose to focus on our busy lives. We wake up in the morning and rush to get to work, and when we are done with our daily struggles, we choose to go out for a nice dinner and some drinks. Our 24 hours end with us dreaming on our comfortable beds till the alarm breaks our sleep.

If, however, we all pledged to take just one hour out of our week and made it to these schools before work, these children would be at par with our cousins who attend expensive private schools. Four hours a month can change the lives of these children because all they need is a playmate who can teach them what their teachers have failed to teach them.

So if you like your motherland and if you wish to see a truly prosperous India, step out of your Mercedes next time and let a child know you are there.

 

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