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The months and years of hardwork seem all the more worth it, as we see the tensions fade away from the faces of the people and hope fill their eyes. These stories are close to our hearts as they serve as a reminder of the pledge we undertook all those years ago of bringing positive change in the society.
We are happy to introduce to you some of Lakshyam’s exceptionally brilliant and bright kids who have overcome tremendous adversities and powered through it all. Their love for life inspires us to extend the best of resources to them.
Sakshi was one of the girls who was seen begging on the traffic signals of Chhatarpur on Saturdays outside the mandir asking for money or food. When Lakshyam started working in the Basti she never came to us, she just eyed us from distance and ran away. On asking about her, most of the people would say she is Gungi (dumb), half of the community people did not know her name as she was addressed as Gungi and that had become her name.
Our first step started when we encouraged people to recognize her name and call her Sakshi instead of Gungi. Slowly she started coming to us and there we realized how beautiful she is, how deep are her eyes and over last one and half year the whole community has accepted her because we had made her feel special and this made people curious why was she getting so much importance.
Her parents have been counselled and now she is not on the streets anymore. She has been taken to Kalawati Hospital, AIIMS and various Private Hospitals for check-ups to cure her inability to talk and slow mental growth!
Keeping in mind her special needs she is now sent to a special school, so that she can learn how to communicate and be self-sufficient as we can clearly see how capable she is with her actions. She has passed her exams for Navjyoti Special School and Lakshyam is raising money for her admission fee every month which includes her tuition fee, transport fee, certification and documentation and also contributes in doctor visits and medicines.
Deepak was a ragpicker , when we use to open our centre early morning 9 am , he would be on his way back from rag picking from the roads as his working hours was early morning. With those dark brown eyes he use to stop at our gate and look inside the kids coming in and settling down. It took us 2 months to bring him inside the school. Initially when he started coming to school he would bring his bag full of rags keep at the entrance and then walk in. Due to lack of proper waste management in our country , his hands use to bleed almost thrice a week as 80% of us thrown glass bottles, plastic bottle, paper , card board and along in the same bin anything which is broken. These are further dumped on the road sides. The kids so called “Ragpickers” then pick out stuff from this garbage that they can sell further and earn their living. Deepak being one of them.
The eyes had that passion to study, his family pressure made him pick the rags but for 1 year he/ we managed both together. After a year he was completely with us as he was a bright hard working child and his family was counselled regularly. Another 1 year his growth was tremendous and within 2 years he was in a state where we though he can be enrolled in a proper school. Today he is going to a private school and in Class 3 and we hope he becomes a police officer that’s what his dream his !!
Taushik (aged 10) suffers from a genetic skin disease known as Lamellar Ichthyosis that causes the skin to have printed marks all over the body along with generalized scaling. Taushik’s skin turns red with irritation in summers and extremely dry in winters due to his condition. For years, he had been living in unbearable discomfort. We at Lakshyam couldn’t bear to witness his pain and decided to seek treatment for him. Now Taushik is getting treated at one of the renowned hospitals of our country, Fortis Hospital. Taushik and Lakshyam are strongly bonded with love for each other, so much so that the school of Lakshyam has become a second home for him.
Samaika (aged 6) is Taushik’s sister and suffers from the same skin condition, Lamellar Ichthyosis. Just a few days after her birth, it was revealed that she suffers from the condition. Aware of the horrific implications of the skin disease, Lakshyam has been providing constant medical care to her ,although the condition is a lifelong, but with better care and regular medication Samaika’s condition can be better managed.
Ankit is 9 years old and who is suffering from Club foot, also called congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), which is a congenital deformity involving one foot or both. The affected foot appears to have been rotated internally at the ankle. Without treatment, people with club feet often appear to walk on their ankles or on the sides of their feet. Due to this condition he is unable to walk. Lakshyam provided his family with the support and helped Ankit to successfully go through 6 operations which has treated his one foot completely and another 6 operations would be taken care off for his other foot procedure. We are providing him with medicines and also other resources that are required. We are hoping that he recovers in the next 6 months. A student from IIT Delhi takes 2-3 hours classes for him so that his studies don’t lag behind due to his physical condition.
Brother sister duo were earlier a housemaid and a corn seller, before they came to Lakshyam. Mother is a widow staying with her brother having her own constraints to feed and family and earns a living. Once the sibling joined the school, they both seemed to be the most brightest kids of our centre. When their father was alive they both were going to school so fortune lately their base in studies was well in place. After keeping them with us for 2 years and bridging their educational gap , now Lakshyam has enrolled them to a private school and paying their fees as there is no govt school in the area , and the nearest is across the main highway which is already full with 400 children with 2 teachers. Even in the private school they seem to be doing great. Deepa , their mother has joined our women empowerment program and stitching bags for us and is able to earn 3000 rs per month to sustain her family basic needs.
Located behind the urban housing along a dirt road is Sindhi Basti (slum) hidden from sight. A narrow gully with heavy ongoing traffic skirts the slum where children run up and down. Makeshift structures made from plastic tents – it is all they know, it is their home. Our children are dedicated to learn and do not shy away from hardwork. They complete the assigned classwork with lightning speed and request the teachers to allot more. This is in great contrast with the scenario 2 years ago, before Lakshyam unofficially adopted the slum. The children were part of the brutish world of child labour, and used to polish boots and beg for money to help their struggling families. Their parents who live on a day-to-day basis, can not afford to send their children to school, and are often forced to push their children into the same unjust world that they themselves have grown up in.
2 years ago, Lakshyam vowed to right these wrongs and ensure that the human rights of these children are no longer violated. Basic Education is the human right of every individual. Our journey began by teaching the children under a tree or a plastic tent, and soon with the coordinate efforts of Geeli Mitti (founded by Shagun Singh), a school was built using the earthbag technique.
Lakshyam’s efforts to rehabilitate the children have borne fruits, as 19 of our children have been successfully enrolled in the government school while 2 in the private schools – their fees are being sponsored by Lakshyam. We continue to support the children along their journey by providing remedial education and resolve any difficulties that they might be facing in their school lives.
Our project on Women Empowerment “Rooh – Awakening Women’s soul” provides women with the opportunity to earn 3000-5000 by making handicrafts from recycled materials while being home and taking care of their family at the same time. This helps the women in supporting their families, making them self-reliant, and allowing them to have a say in family matters.
As the name sounds is one of the bubbliest person at our centre. She has been doing out stitching work for over 4 years and is supporting our family. She was recently presented in CII “Rural Entrepreneur “ category and got selected as part of their microfinance model and is equipped with one of the best machines to increase her productivity.
Gudiya is specialist in making Gudiyas which is our face of the Rooh programs. She has made over 10000 dolls out of scraps and is earning approx 5000 rs per month. She was also recently presented in CII “Rural Entrepreneur “category and got selected as part of their microfinance model and is equipped with one of the best machines to increase her productivity.
A toy seller by profession who use to make toys out of mud , and use to sell in traffic signals and local basti s is now skilled toy person with Lakshyam. She makes similar mud toys but revamped in a new look which Lakshyam is selling and has started giving her more work in form of hand stitching so that she can stay at home and take care of her 3 children who are aged between 2-6 years who were left along in the basti and were prone to any kind of harassment.
Nazma, 24, was a teacher at the Lakshyam School.She joined lakshyam when we opened our first centre and with a time span of 5 years she got various oppurtunities of exposure and growth. Today she is one of the smart girl and working at a call centre with a income of Rs 12000 per month. We wish her all the very best. Nazma highlights and aptly sums it up, “We are really lucky to have such a supportive and encouraging boss in Raashi ma’am to have reached this milestone. People in and around Lakshyam school recognize me and respect me. I have an identity, which gives me indescribable happiness and satisfaction. Belonging to the slums, it’s really a matter of pride for me.”
Amrita joined Lakshyam with Nazma , and she has also grown exceptionally well in her life amd doing a well to do job as a data entry operator today.The exposure she has received during the last couple of years has been nothing less than a learning experience that has been a reward in itself. The confidence, knowledge, skills, strengths and most importantly, lessons for a lifetime, has made her proud of herself as they have surpassed all her expectations.
Access to Safe Potable Water
Community members asked us forthrightly – how can the children be expected to want to learn, when their stomach are empty and growling from hunger while their mouths dry from thirst. They have to walk 4-5 kilometres every day on rocky roads to buy water with heavy barrels over their heads as they breathe in dense amounts of dust. They must do so despite the scorching heat of summers and the shivering cold winters. Unable to afford such expensive water, they often have to not take bath for days, or wash their clothes.
We realised the course Lakshyam must take in order to alleviate the anguish of the people of Sindhi Basti – first and foremost ensuring that they have access to water and food, and only then can education be imparted successfully. Initially with the help of donors and corporates, we would buy water tankers to supply water to the community. Teams of Lakshyam and IIT Delhi then collectively took rounds of the offices of the Delhi Jal Board in order to persuade them to provide water to the community, but were strung along by the bureaucrats. After 6 months of strenuous hardwork, Delhi Jal Board agreed to send water tanks of 9000L every week. People of Sindhi Basti, after 15 long years, now can entrust upon a steady supply of safe potable water. No longer do they have to struggle to do meet basic needs (such as drinking water, bathing, washing clothes) that most of us take for granted.
The community undertaken by Lakshyam includes families inhabiting an area of land near Arthala, Mohan nagar at Ghaziabad. All members of the community earn their living by rag-picking. The ragpickers daily rummage through discarded (waste) material from the nearby developed localities, dump it right outside their respective makeshift homes and begin the tedious task of sorting and allotting the material according to need, usage and sale value. The makeshift homes of this community are composed of little more than what can be found among the waste material. Most of the children began rag picking along with their parents to supplement the household income at an early age.
Lakshyam entered the arthala community with a small patch which is now known as the Ghaziabad center for education and skill development. In the beginning, it was a challenge to convince the parents to send their children to school. With gradual surveys and door to door discussions, we finally garnered 52 children in two months from 150 households who are regularly attending classes every week in the morning and afternoon batch.
Their curriculum is designed according to their need and follows a holistic approach in learning. Apart from stationary that is distributed amongst kids, we encourage them to take weekly extra curricular activities such as drawing, colouring, learning to speak about themselves, playing sports activities, singing and group dancing. We can proudly say that we have been successful in enrolling 9 of our children into private schools in an effort to mainstream them into regular schools. Their fees as well as other resources are being sponsored by Lakshyam’s donors. Lakshyam is the only hope as in the area there is no other NGO who is helping the community people for the welfare and development.
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