This 74-year-old lady is using her time, money & energy to educate underprivileged children
What do you think you will be doing in your Seventies? At 74 years of age, Snehlata Hooda is busy running and managing a school for the underprivileged children. With over four decades of experience teaching at the Delhi government school, Gaurav Maa as she is fondly referred to says, “social work is in my DNA.”
Holding fort at a makeshift school in Gurugram’s Sector 43, catering to children of domestic workers, daily wage labourers, rag pickers and other underprivileged communities, Gaurav Maa’s initiative has come a long way. The school was set up in 2005 with barely 20 students, and today has over 200 students.
“Initially I would personally walk the streets and convince parents to send their children to my school. It was easier for parents to send these children out to work rather than waste their time in a school.”
Gaurav Maa belonged to an era when girls were not often allowed to do much, besides bear children and manage the home. “I lived in the purdah days. Girls were to cover their head and not speak in front of the men at all,” she recounts. “I was however lucky to be born to parents who were forward thinking. It was because of them that I got to see the inside of a school.”
The school is currently being funded by Gaurav Maa’s pension and the financial assistance of various well-wishers. From time to time people also contribute by buying the stationery and books that the children use in school. When asked how she manages to run the school with her limited financial resources, she smiles and says, “A pure heart can move mountains. I truly believe that educating these children well is the only answer to a better future, and it is our duty to make that happen.”
Besides educating the children, the school also provides them with uniform, books, stationery and wholesome meals.
“We have also introduced taekwondo, sewing and painting activities for the children. It is essential that these children also get to experience a variety of activities. They will never get the opportunity elsewhere.”
Gaurav Maa hopes that the students from the Gaurav Niketan will make their way to reputed universities and colleges for further studies.
Source: The Better India
Photograph: © Unsplash