Witnessing Stones Turning into Diamonds…

Door Step School was founded with a vision of empowering children from marginalized communities to become self-dependent and confident educated professionals. Over past several years, numerous teachers and facilitators from Door Step School have been striving to educate underprivileged children across Pune city. It was heartening to witness the results of all the hardwork, when the students of yesterday came together as grown-up individuals achieving personally and professionally today. The occasion was Past Students’ Gathering organized on 14th of August 2016 by Door Step School, Pune.

Door Step School has been introducing innovative programmes to address specific obstacles in the children’s journey towards education and self-development. These programmes include educational activity centers and study classes at slums and labour camps on construction sites, mobile classrooms, reading classes at government schools, and other such activities with children and their parents. Most of the beneficiaries of Door Step School programmes belong to migrant communities and the teachers usually lose contact with their students once they migrate from one location to another. Despite many efforts to track them after migration, not more than half of the children are successfully contacted. The greatest satisfaction for any teacher is in witnessing her students progressing in their lives. But Door Step School teachers are often deprived of this sense of achievement, thanks to the migrating nature of their students.

However, this year Door Step School decided to bring as many past beneficiaries together and organized a Past Students’ Gathering in the month of August 2016. All the serving teachers were informed to invite as many past students as they could contact. The teachers, supervisors, and coordinators did a great job in tracing students from batches as old as 2006 (10 years) and 2003 (13 years). Around 90 students attended the event and shared their life stories with other past students. These children (now adults) ranged from 14 to 27 years of age, all of them either continuing or having completed their formal education. Most of them are first generation learners, with no educational background at home. In their impromptu speeches, all of the students expressed gratitude towards Door Step School teachers for inspiring them to learn and pursue education.

The number of attendees for this gathering was much smaller against thousands of students touched by Door Step School over last 25 years. However, those who were present on this day, truly represented the remaining thousands in several ways. These students belonged to permanent slums, temporary slums, labour habitats on construction sites across Pune. While some of them are pursuing higher education, some have started their careers in various fields. Among the attendees, there were graduates with degrees like B.A., B.Com., D.Ed., and even LLB. Some of them are working as office assistants, accountants, and even bank managers. Some of the girls who would have been married off or would have ended up working as house maids, could continue their education because of support and guidance from Door Step School teachers. These girls are now becoming financially independent and some of them are even sustaining their families, through jobs or self-employment like running small shops and tailoring works. Some of the students are appearing for competitive exams to serve in the government jobs and some were so inspired by their teachers that they have now become teachers themselves. That can be considered greatest of the achievements of Door Step School programmes!

All the students thanked Door Step School for being the stepping stone to their growth in professional as well as personal lives. However, Door Step School teachers very well understand and acknowledge the hidden capabilities and passion among these (and all other) children, which just needs a little encouragement and direction at the right age. While the teachers are busy with finding and supporting further lots of children, these past students have boosted their hopes and motivation for sure!