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Spreading Smiles in Remote Areas – Project Smiling Faces

March 18, 2016 divider image

It was a combination of determination of Rtn. Shailja Pingale, focus of PP Gulab Mahant, humour of PP Rajan Bhatia, doggedness of Rtn. Sandip Dhodapkar (Director), wisdom of Rtn. Nisreen Maimoon and the simplicity of Rtn. Neeru Bhatia that made our day despite the 220 kilometres and rugged forest terrain leading to two remote villages located in Gondia District.

It is no mean task to operate successfully more than 30,000 schools on charity in remote rural areas spread over India out of which 3,500 are in Maharashtra and 240 are located in Gondia District alone. Friends of Tribal Society (earlier known as Gramothhan Parishad) has proven that not only can such a gigantic task be taken up, but it can be done extremely effectively by giving meaningful training to children in the remotest areas. The concept of Ekal Vidyalaya is very simple. In a cluster of 3-5 villages, they provide space, employ & train one teacher (normally Class XII pass from one of the villages) who imparts lessons in culture, hygiene, sports, personal development, academics, heritage, traditions, religion etc. every weekday from 5 PM to 8 PM.

Project Smiling Faces of our Club’s Scholarships Committee has been financially supporting 4 such schools since the last few years.

Pandharwani Village is where we were welcomed by children of two Ekal Vidyalayas who led us in a procession through the village to one of the Vidyalayas. It was a delight to observe how the teachers have been trained to teach the children. Arithmetic and language is taught by the medium of singing to the children .The interaction with the children proved that rural & remote India’s ambitions are not just restricted to agriculture and small odd jobs. They vociferously expressed their ambitions to become pilots, professors, doctors, engineers etc.

Sports gear covering cricket, football, volleyball, badminton, skipping ropes etc. were handed over for the two schools to the concerned teachers after felicitation of our members by the village elders. Motivational speeches by PP Gulab, Rtn. Nisreen, Rtn. Sandip and Rtn. Rajiv elicited cheers from all. This was followed by a sumptuous lunch at the house of the village head.

The local MLA’s wife, who also happens to be Rtn. Shailja’s ex-student, came down specially to greet us and expressed her gratitude. A cup of tea with an extra dose of affection (read sugar) at her home completed a very satisfying mission

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