Saakshar - in the words of Anita and Kajal
Two students who began their studies through Saakshar were asked to write about their experience, and their words (sent in Hindi in 2015 and translated with the help of Mimi Ray) are here. Anita was one of Saakshar's first students and a year older than Kajal. Both remained in close contact with Saakshar throughout their studies and have friends and other family members who have been helped by Saakshar too. They have lived in Nasirpur slum all their lives, and here they describe their experience of Saakshar. I have known them both since 2009, and will be interviewing them again about how their lives are changing when I visit later in March 2017. Anita completed her 12th class exams at 18 and having been given training in administration has been working in an office, but needs to retake one of her exams this summer. Kajal successfully completed her 12th class exams, and is now being sponsored through Saakshar School Appeal to train as a teacher, along with one other female student.The first picture below shows Anita (sitting) in her home, with her little brother, and three friends, including Kajal, wearing yellow. Ralph
The Story of Saakshar in My Own Words: Anita’s Story
This story began in 2002. The main woman in this story is Asha madam and her daughters. This is not just my story but the story of many children like me who wanted to study and learn, but there was nobody who wanted to support us and help us learn. The parents of these children were illiterate and didn’t know the importance of studying. Volunteers/teachers from Saakshar went to every one of our houses and explained the importance of studying to our parents, and asked them to send their children to school. Our parents agreed, and there was started to shine light in our dark worlds! And the people responsible for spreading this light in our dark worlds were none other than our teachers from Saakshar. They promised to always support us. They said that if you want to succeed in life, we will always support you even if others don’t. Asha madam and her helpers then opened a school and we studied there for many days.
At one point the committee of the school stopped Saakshar from teaching us there, but our teachers didn’t lose hope. They rented a room in 7 Mahavir Enclave and taught us there. After gaining my knowledge from Saakshar, in 2003, the charity and my dad introduced me to a state school. Every child that goes to Saakshar is very lucky, and after going there, that child’s destiny changes for the better. For example, one of Saakshar’s past students, Kusumtala, has opened a tailor’s shop after getting married, and now she is living her life very happily. Even we want to be like her and succeed in life. Another student of Saakshar, called Jaya Kumari, stayed at the charity after she finished studying, to teach future children like us. Teachers like Shikha and Seema Madam always taught us to keep going in life. I want to get somewhere in life. My dream is to become a lawyer. And to be a lawyer, I am going to work as hard as I can. And to make my dream come true, VVF will support me. I have full faith in VVF. I will always stay with Saakshar because I know that only Saakshar can help me to fulfil my dream, and only through them will I be able to achieve my goal in life.
My name is Kajal. With Saakshar’s help I have climbed the first ladder of my life. I first came to know of Saakshar in 2002. Since then, I have known, understood and learnt every aspect of life through Saakshar. Saakshar is very pure and auspicious for me - like a shining lamp for every blind, poor person. And as far as I know, this lamp lights up every dark corner in a room. If I go to a temple to pray, then I will always remember Saakshar before God and be thankful to all those who have helped me. Asha Ma’am in Saakshar has showed me the right path in life. She has treated us like her own children - she never distinguished between her children and us. Shikha and Seema and Pooja Ma’am helped us a lot too. As we grew up, Saakshar recognised the talents which each of us had, and with great dedication and hard work, they helped us to improve. We met many big TV stars who we had seen on TV. It was lovely to see them in real life.
I have learnt a lot of things from The Vigyan Vijay Foundation - I learnt how to dance, how to make crockery and utensils from clay. I learnt the art of speaking politely and manners from VVF too. VVF has always embraced all the children who are part of it, and always supported students who are poor or sad. Ralph Sir is also part of VVF and he knows all of us and understands us very well. Ralph Sir lives in England and comes to visit us specially. I will never forget any of my teachers and helpers from Saakshar. I don’t have words to express how much Saakshar has helped me - it cannot be expressed on paper. Whatever we are today is because of Asha Ma’am, her daughters and everyone at VVF. This is my story of Saakshar in my own words. I love you Saakshar! (Photo: Kajal in her home in Nasirpur slum, with siblings and neighbours).