Social work is an activity most of us believe in, are vocal about, but find difficult to engage in. A step to create a change was taken by Vrinda Dalmia of LSR (then a second year psychology student), in 2010, who started Chehel, a community project, which aims at empowering underprivileged students through education. Chehel is a voluntary organization, open to every person interested in making a difference to the lives of underprivileged children, from students to housewives. Students from nursery to class 9 are taught by the volunteers, and children have already made immense progress in maths, for which they have very strong aptitude. The students are mostly from the slum area of Zamrudpur. Subjects ranging from English, Maths and Hindi are taught to the children, and Fridays are an ‘extra- curricular activity day’ for them. The children are currently preparing a play which the Chehel volunteers plan to showcase in February. “One of the main objectives of Chehel is to give quality education to children for free which is not received by them in government schools. We are an alternative for parents, who have to send their children to tuitions costing 600 Rs a month, as they don’t find good teachers for their children. The parents of the children are extremely eager to empower their children with education, and we are helping them realize their dream. Anybody with a passion to teach can be a part of Chehel, we have volunteers who are professionals, as well as college students. We teach the children in a park and are really approachable,” says Deepika, one of current co-ordinators of Chehel. Chehel’s founder, Vrinda is currently a Gandhi fellow working in Rajasthan and her initiative is being taken forward by Deepika, Mohika and Pooja, the current co-ordinators of Chehel. In a field like rural development, ground level work is extremely important, and Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) is quite unique in having a society specifically dedicated to engage students in social, economic and political issues. The Voluntary Agency Placement Program (VAPP) was begun in 1995 with a vision to provide students a grass root level forum. The society acts like a bridge between NGO’s like Students for Free Tibet (SFI), Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), etc. With the help of VAPP, LSR students have worked with these various organizations, working in rural areas of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh, etc and engaging in activities like social auditing and legal documentation. Recently, VAPP also had an informal trip to the site of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, where students engaged with legal documentation with the locals. Students who have been an active part of VAPP have gone on to work with organizations like the National Council for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). In fact, one of the very active members of NCPRI, Anjali Bharadwaj is an LSR alumnae! However, it’s sad to see that LSR does not encourage any collaboration between an organization like Chehel and VAPP, nor is Chehel allowed to carve a niche for itself in college due to stringent rules. A career in the field of social work and rural development is not only socially rewarding, but it also gives one an opportunity to innovate and become a better person!]]>
[email protected];I am a third year History (Hons.) student studying in Lady Shri Ram College and I am extremely passionate about my subject. Writing is one of my favourite hobbies, and I am also a trained classical singer. DU Beat has fascinated me since my first year, and working for DU Beat has been the most challenging as well enjoyable phase of my life. I am also into archaeology, South East Asian studies and I am a big fan of Roger Federer (no offence to Nadal fans!). I religiously follow tennis, and I am also into judo. I hope to be a researcher in the future. Administration does not lure me, but the love of the past does, for history is what we make it, and what defines our very base of existence!