Aarzoo has reached into Delhi’s communities and ignited the untapped potential of many women and children. Nidhi Lamba and Deeganta Datta (Fellows) were shocked by what they found in their classrooms. The children were never encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. Yet plenty of students were inclined towards the arts. Many kids were interested in dance, theatre and performing arts, but their mothers seemed wary of allowing participation. The pair were taken aback, but realized that many of the mothers stayed home alone and were restricted to the meagre income earned by their husbands (if anything). The community also suffered from rampant domestic violence and substance abuse. For a group that didn’t have the chance to complete school, learning dance or theatre provided a welcome creative, productive outlet. “Most of them felt they were dependent on their husbands and also wanted to learn skills that could be used to get a job or earn money,” says Nidhi. “They were so intrigued, they said: ‘even we want to do it!” So, Project Aarzoo began as a performance showcase of 40 kids in Shahdara (and their mothers), which grew to a production featuring 350 students and aims to reach 6500 kids in the future!
Applications for the 2017-2019 Teach For India Fellowship program are now open. Please visit apply.teachforindia.org to submit your application by March 21st, 2017.