Real-Life Role Models

Over the years, education in India has been made available for everyone almost throughout the country. And yet, there still are places where children have no means of education, or even a wish to choose education. They are influenced by the people and lives around them and have very little to their imagination they could dream to be. Or in some places where they often fall into a life of crime, and instead dream of becoming a gangster or mafia in their own area, so that they do not have to live a difficult life as the one they had in their childhood.

Such is also the painful story of the kids growing up in the slums of Mumbai. Here the kids have a hard life, living a life of anonymity, striving to survive, where their parents have to work day and night to put food on the table, leaving the children to run wild which often results in them fall into the clutches of local goons and slum lords who lead them astray or into a life of crime. The distractions are many and role models few.

A Mumbai school for the underprivileged has taken up the initiative to put efforts to engage and educate the children so they can lead a better life and dream of a future that is commendable, by bringing education to the children at their doorsteps. Yes, the Door Step School has taken the big leap to change the present and to make 100 percent literacy a reality. This is a group of people whose main motivation in life is ‘service to society’ and they believe the best way to do so is to usher in a wave of knowledge that engulfs the future of our nation – the children.

Door Step School was founded by the duo Mrs. Rajani Paranjape and Ms. Bina Seth Lashkari in 1988-89, Maharastra. Now they run two chapters of the school- in Mumbai and in Pune. They came up with an interesting initiative to encourage and motivate children to study. India is a country where the lanes and streets are named after famous peoples who have been role models for many people in many ways. But these kids in slums have very little or nothing where they could look for proper and right role models. Door Step School realized that these kids needed real role models, so why not the very kids who were beating the odds everyday by staying in school and excelling. They themselves could be potentially famous children. So what they did is, the teachers identified the most promising students and named hitherto no-name alleys and narrow streets in the slums after kids, who are academic achievers or have made the effort to rise above their circumstances to study.

The Local Corporators joined hands with the Door Step School in this initiative. Innovative initiatives like these serve the purpose of rewarding kids for their efforts and creating role models for other children to enroll in school. Felicitating them also serves the purpose of getting them to stick with academics and focus on building careers. The entire slum community were invited at these road-naming ceremonies and even some famous people graced it with their presence. Also the parents of these kids were celebrated as they too contributed their part by toiling day and night for them.

This road naming activity has so far been carried out in three slum localities of Mumbai which are, the Balasaheb Ambedkar Nagar Chawl at Cuffe Parade, Hiranandani Akruti Chawl in Govandi and Maharashtra Nagar Rickshaw Stand Chawl in Mankhurd, and over a dozen of streets are named after kids who now live for a new dream, not to choose the corrupt path but be role models and successful people in life. These very slums that used to be the signs of depression and hopelessness are now turning into places and sources of inspiration in the society.