“I am a Chartered Accountant but I left my practice way back in 1998. I had this inherent zeal to create something of my own but not for myself”, said Supriya. Looking at the inquisitiveness in Piyush’s eyes she continued in a single breath, “‘Vidya & Child’ was born out of this thought. I decided to create an environment where a child not only gets educated but also learns to grow beyond expectations irrespective of the mundane constraints staring right at him/her in the face. ‘Vidya & Child’ attempts to provide holistic education that gives children a platform and a head start to launch themselves successfully in the unavoidable Rat Race.”
Words came out of her mouth with extraordinary ease, confidence and most importantly, undying passion. We could gauge the sense of accomplishment and a will to do much more in the eyes of the proud founder of ‘Vidya & Child’.
We had waited all our life to see moments of truth with our own eyes. This was a moment of truth for Piyush and me. We did not have to discuss anything, anymore. We crossed glances at each other and we both knew that the decision had been taken. The much awaited moment had come. “Ignited Minds” got ignited in that very moment.
Life has not been the same since then.
Within a week we could spread the sparks and we soon became a TEAM - HCL Team. We all were coming from different backgrounds, with different perspectives and seeking different directions but a common thread started running across our lives. A thread called ‘Vidya & Child’. The team of eleven HCLites, viz Ruchira, Nitin, Neelima, Shalini, Prerna, Nidhi, Rahul, Divyanshu, Nitish, Piyush and me, has tried to create a difference to the life of a handful of total 300+ underprivileged children who daily come to ‘Vidya & Child’ in pursuit of excellence. The attempt, which started with just teaching them the laws of physics & chemistry or the magic of numbers, has blossomed way beyond its premise. The attempt has got converted into a larger goal. A goal to change their outlook towards life, a goal to make them realize the potential within themselves, perhaps a goal to spread more happiness in their lives.
Housed in a rented place in a narrow street in Sector 37 of Noida, this institution has structure consisting of 8-10 rooms has become a university in itself. The badly painted walls, the poorly designed circuitry, the unforgiving fluctuations in voltage, the slow pace of the ceiling fans and such other things stop mattering when we look into those hopeful, eager eyes. Eyes of children who daily come to Vidya & Child after their normal school hours to better their curricular subjects, to learn music, to learn singing, to enjoy education.
The children are extremely close and respectful of Supriya. ‘Didi’ is how they address her. They have literally grown in front of Supriya’s eyes. She has done a lot not only for them but also for their families. The parents of these children have a limited source of income and they want their children also to contribute to the house income. To make them understand that education is of maximum significance to the lives of these children is a mammoth task. Supriya has done and is still doing that efficiently in spite of all the obstacles. She has always taken a step from her side to ensure the smooth functioning of this concept. She many a times visits the parents and helps them make their budgets, teaches them how to control their expenditure and how to decide upon the right things to use the money for.
But life for these children is not as unruffled as I and you would desire for our own children. They wake up into the murkiness of the dawn to simultaneously do the domestic work and gear up for their morning school. Vidya & Child happens to them every afternoon post their school time. They work towards garnering knowledge at VnC till twilight and get back home to do some more household work. Life becomes an ordeal at times, when one has to suffer the onslaught of an intoxicated father or a tired mother who literally works her ass off.
Sometimes, I get petrified with the thought that these children might just get indifferent towards life. Life when it flaunts its multiple colors in front of such juvenile minds… tends to make them indifferent to any color of life. I go fragile at this thought. I feel impoverished. I splinter. I try to gather myself unsuccessfully.
But I always come full circle with life, when I meet them again. The exuberance in their thoughts, the glimmer in their eyes, and the restlessness in their movements…gives me a raison d'être to believe. To believe in life. To believe in the voyage ahead.
The road ahead is surely long and a tough one. There is darkness ahead. There is a jungle full of wild thoughts ahead of them, ahead of me. But the road exists and so does the destination. A destination called “Hope”, a destination called “Success”.
I want to walk through this jungle with a flame in my heart because it enlightens me, more than anybody else. I promise myself daily, to keep this flame burning.
A brief about Vidya & Child
Vidya & Child works with the mission to help bridge the gap for those children who need education and have no access to the facilities for learning existing in our society. Education at Vidya & Child involves mainstreaming children into schools for them to complete school education. This crucial step is a platform from where children can then decide career paths and aspire for higher studies. It enables a child to access the vast opportunities of higher learning that are otherwise beyond reach. Vidya & Child strengthens the child to compete in the mainstream world and to utilise the potential within.
Vidya & Child is a not for profit organization based out of Noida and started in July, 1998. It started with 2 children and now works with over 900 children across 5 locations (4 centres in Noida and one in Siwan, Bihar) through its non formal and after school support centres. There are over 100 children who have been mainstreamed into formal schools and 13 children have finished Class XII and are all pursuing higher studies. For more information, please visit – www.vidyaandchild.org