Children of ragpickers, construction workers and other daily wage labourers in Vashi call her a ‘miracle woman’. That’s because 36-year-old woman Kaval Katija is helping them to realise their dreams by providing them with education under the Vashi flyover.
Heading a non-profit group called August Kranti, Katija teaches street children several skills, including art and craft, dance, drama in addition to basic language and math skills. Starting the NGO in 2012, she told MiD DAY, “I currently have a group of around 20 children. Since, these kids don’t have access to normal school facilities or any extra-curricular activities, I decided to start this project.”
“I keep the children engaged for two hours per day and make learning fun. Through skits and songs, I teach them about our history, our freedom struggle and make them sing patriotic songs. Also, I ensure that personal hygiene is thoroughly explained and today, I see a marked difference in them since they joined class,” added Katija.
Katija told MiD DAY that the NGO was not a welcomed idea among the parents of the area at first. “Since these kids contribute to their family income, I faced quite a bit of hesitation and had to convince them to send their kids.” Initially, the parents were hesitant to send their kids but after spending 15 to 20 minutes every day with them, Katija was able to persuade the parents to send their kids.
And Katija has high hopes for her children. Even though she has several obstavles, her focus and conviction has not waned. “I want to ensure that after I am done imparting basic learning to these kids, they are absorbed by the nearby municipal schools and continue their education. I do not want them to take the wrong path in life,” she said firmly.
She plans to enroll her current batch of students in the NMMC School in Vashigaon. “I plan to enroll them in school by August 15. It is my way of celebrating our Independence Day,”she says.
Want to help?
August Kranti has several volunteers providing aid to the initiative. Anil Tayade who is currently pursuing a government diploma in Arts from Rishikesh Drawing (Art) College & Technical Institute has been with Katija since the beginning and teaches art and craft. "Teaching these kids gives a sense of satisfaction. You know you are helping them to mould their future."