SHWAS – BREATHING LIFE INTO THEIR DREAMS… (EXCERPTS   FROM  TALK WITH KINJAL SHAH , FOUNDER OF SHWAS  NGO AND MIRAJ, SUPERVISOR AT SHWAS )

Running  in  through  the  school  gates  ,  making  castles  by  the  beach  or  just  a  game  of  cricket  under  the  scorching  sun  are  a  number  of  faces  smiling , weeping , laughing , complaining , fighting  and  enjoying.  By  the  ice- golawala  asking  for  a  free ice  ball ,  by  the grocery  store  demanding  a  free  tazo  or  by  the  balloon-man  getting  ‘A Pink Balloon’ , you  pass  by  them  and  you  can’t  stop  but  smile  as  those  memories  tickle  your  heart  and  take  you  to  back  when  you  were  a  child .

 

As  we  swing  through  these  words  we  imagine  colorful  things ,  nicely  dressed  kids , our  big  schools , and  all  the  good  things  ,  all  in  all  a  pretty  great  childhood …but  the  scenario  can  also  be  a   kid  running  in  through  the  school  gate  to  provide  tea ,  or  making  castles  because   they  don’t  have  toys  and  playing  cricket  with  the  litter  around . It  can  be  a  free  ice-ball  which  they  ‘begged’  for  or  a  kid  ‘selling’  ‘A  Pink  Balloon’ ; and  in  a  split  second  we  realize  that  childhood  is  not  that  great  for  each  and  everyone  of  us .

 

Caught  up  in  this  monotonous  routine  which  we  call ‘being  busy’ , be  it  at  a  traffic  signal  or  a  market  place , we  see  such  kids…naah – we  stop , notice , pity and  move  away sometimes  giving  them  a  penny  or two. But  neither  do  we  touch  their  lives  nor  do  we  make  an  effort  in  making  at  least  one  of  this  life  worthwhile . And  the  maximum  we  can  think  of  is  donating  food  and  clothes  because  they  sum  up  the ‘GOOD  DEEDS’  for us . But  to  be  actual  good  is  to  be a  ‘shooting  star’  if  not  a  ‘wish  come  true’  in  someone’s  life . And  that  is  what  Kinjal Shah  and  Miraj  are  to  the  100  underprivileged  kids  who  come  to  them  seeking  knowledge .

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TEAM SHWAS….

 

Started  8  years  ago  with  a  motive  of  educating  the  underprivileged  children , SHWAS today  helps  with  the  education  of  100 kids  of  which  26  have  now  been  admitted  to  private  schools  and  their  finances are  looked  after  by  the  NGO.

 

“For  the  initial  6-7  months  we  taught  them  in  the  gardens  or  their  vicinity  after  which  we  started  teaching  them  in  municipality  schools  on  weekends . We  used  to  teach  them  hygiene , cleanliness  , nutrition and  indulge in  extra-curricular  activities  with  them  for  nearly  3  years  during  which  we  realized  that  they  have  immense  potential .  It  just  needs  to  be  channelised . So  we  started  admitting  them  in  private  schools and  teaching  them  for  2  hours  daily . And  since  the  past  4  years  we  have  been  doing  this !!” , says  Kinjal  with  an  unusual  spark  in  her  eyes .

 

Soon  I  turn  to  Miraj , a teacher  and  supervisor at SHWAS , questioning  how  teaching  these  kids  is  different and  he  says , “ They  lack  basic  knowledge  and   have  to  be  taught  everything  from  the  ABC  of  a  subject.”

 

And  no  wonder  that  with  a  C  for  cause  comes  C  for  challenges  leading  to  C  for  change. “ Space  was  a  big  challenge . After  3  years  tenure  with  the  municipality  school  got  over  we had  no  space  to  teach . And school dropouts , early  marriage , gender  discrimination are  always  ‘IN’  when  you  work  for  a  social  cause. But  we  talked  to  the  parents , convinced  them  and  it  worked  in  our  favour. We  even  got  this  place and  it  has  given  us  many  fruitful  years.” , she  says  while  taking  a  quick  glance  at  the  place. And  my  eyes  couldn’t  escape  that  expression  full  of  flooded  memories – the  good  and  the  bad  times  which   her  face  gave  away.

 

Girl  Education , one  of  the  most  cliche  topic , on  which  all  of  us  love  to  talk , advertise , draw and paint with  only  a  few  of  us  doing  something  worthwhile , we  forget  that , ‘Talking  big  is  nothing  but  doing  small  can  definitely  lead  us  to  something !”

 

“Usha , one of  our  students  is  presently  in  11th commerce . Her  parents  are  so  supportive  when  it  comes  to  her  studies  and  even  she  is  very  dedicated . She  passed  her  10th grade  with  flying  colors  though  she  didn’t  know  gujarati  when  she  started  coming here.”,

says  Kinjal with  proud  eyes  as  a  soft  ‘Hats Off’  escapes  my  mouth.

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THE APPLE OF EYE – USHA SOLANKI

 

 

“We  learn  to  be  humble . We  learn  to  get  going  no  matter  what . Before  I  was  very  poor  with  giving  interviews  or  speaking  up  but  now  I  can . We  are  a  family  ,  all  of  us  here  and Kinjal  always  inspires  us . It  is  the  way  she  loves  these  kids  that  I admire.” , says Miraj, summing  up  his  journey.

 

And  as  I  near  the  end  of  our  conversation  I  ask  Kinjal  if  she  would  like  to  give  a  message to the  people  out  there and  she  says,” You  have  to  go  out  in  the  community  and  talk  to  the  people  to  know  their  problems . Sitting  at  a  place  and  developing  some  app  wouldn’t  solve  it  when  they  don’t even  have  smartphones.

 

And  as  I  drive  back  I  can’t  help  but  be  in  awe  of  their  work  and as  I  breathe  in – I remember  SHWAS – breathing  in  dreams ,  passions  ,  smiles  and  laughter. And suddenly  the  air  around  seems  a  lot  lighter  and  full of  joy  and  happiness as  I  realize  that  a  number  of  tears  have  now  been  replaced  by  smiles ,  broken  hearts  have  now   been  bandaged and  unfiltered  minds  are  now  being  channelized as  finally  we  can  have  TAARE ZAMEEN PAR for real!!

 

 

2 comments on “SHWAS – BREATHING LIFE INTO THEIR DREAMS… (EXCERPTS   FROM  TALK WITH KINJAL SHAH , FOUNDER OF SHWAS  NGO AND MIRAJ, SUPERVISOR AT SHWAS )

  1. Hilag Shah August 19, 2016 5:15 pm

    Awesome article!!!!! and SHWAS team good going on!!!!! watching you people work is a new ray of hope for future generations!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Harshit Soni August 21, 2016 10:18 am

    Nothings makes ideas and give away thought of an article clear than the one writing it precisely !! Cheers girl ! Lovely people watering roots of society and upcoming eons !! :)

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