This Children’s Day, one of our members, Mrs Ruby Banerji, shares her experience of espousing the cause of underpriviledged children with Mousumi Gupta.
“Will you come to meet us every day Dida? Will you come with us to our house?” That was the first reaction Mrs Banerji got when she became associated with Divine Life Mission, several years back. Though their house is nothing but a plastic cover over their head, yet they felt proud and happy to show it to her. Their unconditional love made her feel that they too deserved to feel safe, valued, and loved and she began to work to better the lives of these street children. Mrs Banerji empowers the street children with skills and attitude to make them socially acceptable and have a positive outlook in life. She arms them with skills that will help them to at least earn enough to meet their basic needs in future, and also helps them to envision goals for themselves and motivates them to achieve their dreams.
She is associated with two schools that work for street children—one at Swinhoe street and the other at Garcha. She had initially decided to teach children under 10 years because she thought, and was also advised by her mentor at Divine Life Mission, that if something is taught to children at such a tender age, it gets reflected in their moral behaviour. But one day, she saw a few children between 12 to 14 years watching her from a distance. When she went up to them and enquired, they replied “Can you please teach us? We are all school dropouts”. That was the biggest reward for her sincerity and efforts, and that was the kind of attraction they felt towards her. She couldn’t ignore their earnest plea and decided to take them under her wing. And now she is excited to mention that one of them is preparing for class 10 board exams. The children are so attached to her that now, when she gets down from her car near the school, they are eager to help her and compete with eachother about who will carry her bag, who will help her to climb the stairs and so on. It is indeed heartwarming to see the sparkle in her eyes when she talks about them.
Mrs Banerji now has some volunteers, who are as dedicated as her, and help her to teach these children different subjects like drawing, dancing and singing. They also provide meal for the children every day. The children celebrate all the important calendar days, which not only gives them the opportunity to showcase their learning and talent, but also teaches them about the importance of those days. New clothes are distributed during festivals for Mrs Banerji believes that just like the privileged section of this society, they too deserve to wear new clothes during festivals.
Mrs Banerji is extremely happy to do something for the society and feels amply rewarded by their love and respect for her. Mrs Banerji does not celebrate children one calendar day but the whole year around!
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