Making dreams come true for the under privileged: The Khvaab Project
Ganesh is a 5th-grade student. He studies in a low-income private school situated in Hyderabad, India. He lives with his mother and two elder sisters. His father passed away when he was very little. The only bread earner of the family is his mother. She works as a domestic help in multiple houses. According to his teachers, he is exceptionally quiet, does not want to be around kids of his age, does not participate actively in class and does not talk at all. Absence and early loss of a parent have made Ganesh the way he is today.
Pavani’s impressionable young mind has witnessed a lot in her home. Pavani and her little sister, Prasanna, were silent witnesses of physical abuse of her mother, Rajeshwari, who tolerated the atrocities through the years. One day their mother decided to move out with her two daughters, a bold decision from her side. Rajeshwari is that single mother who, like countless others is suffering the burden of two jobs to make ends meet but has numerous dreams for her girls.
Stories like that of Ganesh and Pavani are just examples of million such stories in India. Issues like domestic violence, separation, child abuse affect these children at a very early age. Without proper guidance, they lose their way and all hopes for the future. India is a country where 50 percent of all children face emotional abuse of some form. It is clear that children lack the presence of a positive influence in their lives.
The Khvaab Project is an initiative started by Teach For India – Fellows based in Bangalore and Hyderabad. It is a mentorship program where eager volunteers are placed in government and low-income private schools. These volunteers each of them gets to mentor a child and show them a path towards a better future.
The initiative gives the youth of India an opportunity to mentor children on various career paths, making them aware of various opportunities available and also giving them an insight of the world around to inculcate interest and eagerness to learn something new. But most importantly, they are there to spend time with children and be a strong positive influence. Exposing them to the right kind of values creates a positive mindset amongst the children, uplifts their confidence and makes them believe in themselves.
Milind Chandwani, a Teach For India – Fellow part of The Khvaab Project, says, “Almas and Nandini are two children in my class who have been lost and disruptive before. Nandini is more attentive now and tries to participate in various things. Almas has changed a lot since his mentor had interacted with him. The presence of a mentor has helped him believe in himself, and he has gone on to perform a drama on a stage for the first time in his life.”
“Ganesh used to be very shut off from his friends but after the support provided by his mentor, he has opened up a lot both inside and outside of class. He has changed a lot and speaks his mind. I think in the next six months we will see an even greater change in him” says Hema Chennu, another Teach for India – Fellow.
Nishu, one of the Khvaab mentors, says “I was apprehensive about how it will look and why will that certain child befriend me? All these faded away once I interacted with Almas. It was just like talking to one of my friends, and we played football in the public ground, got to know about his friends in school and he told me about his dream of becoming an actor. I told him one day you will become one just like Salman Khan.”
While the core team of Khvaab has faced challenges, they have learned to use these challenges as potential learning’s and make their initiative stronger. Faheem Ahmed, one of the founders of The Khvaab Project, says “We had parents who were very skeptical of allowing a stranger to come and guide their child. It was understandable. So we ensured that the mentors would meet the parents regularly and inform them of the progress being made. Keeping this line of communication open and realizing that parents are a crucial stakeholder in this project, helped the team invest the parents in the work that we do. Our hope is that one day, the parents and the mentors will together work towards a better future for the child. “
Currently, The Khvaab Project is present in Bangalore and Hyderabad, where a dedicated group of 47 individuals from various backgrounds and walks of life are working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of children. If you are interested in joining the movement you can sign up here: goo.gl/MdbRea To know more about their work, follow them on The Khvaab Project.