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Bihar: Indian Air Force Soldier Turned His Home Into A Modern-Day ‘Paathshala’ For 200 Kids In His Village

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In the remote interiors of Bihar, a state with only 61% literacy rate, educational awareness is still deplorable. Inside the mud huts with thatched roofs, books are as scarce as any electrical appliance. Prakash Pandey, an Indian Air Force employee, hailed from one such village. When he returned to his hometown after years of service, little did he know that a hard-hitting picture of poverty and illiteracy awaited him. However, not being one to give up, Prakash was determined to transform the scenario. Come today, Prakash Pandey is running a modern-day school ‘Paathshala’, which provides quality education to over two hundred kids in the village and adjoining localities.


The persisting problems in education

Growing up in remote Chorauwan village in Chapra district of Bihar, Prakash experienced every little struggle of acquiring a good education. Classes used to be held inside mud huts, fees were as less as thirty to fifty rupees per month. “Sometimes, we were unable to pay that much as well. I had to discontinue my studies for a while after my intermediate because of financial constraints,” Prakash shares with Efforts For Good.

Prakash persevered and managed to secure a coveted job in the Indian Air Force. Upon returning to his village, he realised that the situation has not changed much even in a decade. “Maybe now there are more schools in number, but the quality of education is still in shambles. People are still struggling to pay nominal fees like a hundred or two hundred rupees per month. As a result, many children are not even attending schools,” Prakash expresses with regret.


Old syllabus and lack of good teachers

The impractical and obsolete curriculum comprises the next part of the educational story. Most of these villages, surviving below the poverty level, are yet to receive proper electric connectivity. “Then how can you expect them to learn computer basics or use any other digital device, which is the need of the hour?” asks Prakash.


He also regrets the sad truth that nowadays the school teachers are selected and induced by the village ‘Mukhiya’ (head) as per his/her choice, not on the basis of academic qualifications. Needless to mention, the quality of teaching is ought to decline if favouritism or nepotism comes in the way.

“If I am seeing such deterioration and then going on to live my life outside, that is no solution”, declares Prakash. He saw quite a number on non-profit foundations organising weekend schools in the area. But, he wanted a more impactful and permanent solution.


‘School Chale’ Campaign

He surveyed a radius of five kilometres around his village and came across a shocking reality. “Hundreds of children were being deprived of basic education simply because their parents were least aware of its importance. They would not mind letting their kids fly kites or run around all day long,” he tells us.

He invested all his savings from six years of service and in July 2017, Prakash started his school Paathshala inside the premises of his own home with thirty-five local kids.



Prakash also launched the ‘School Chale’ (Let’s Go To School) campaign in the area and gave children books, bags and stationery kits, to encourage them to attend schools. “One day of the campaign brought seventy new kids the next day to my school,” he shares.


The special teachers of Paathshala

The teachers at Paathshala are no ordinary ones and deserve a special mention. Prakash witnessed how women in his village are still lacking independence. “Even my own sister, despite being educated, did not have the confidence to visit the market by herself, let alone having a career,” he narrates, implying how most girls in her area are facing the same.

He amassed a group of young women with requisite qualifications and trained them for eight months in practical skills like computer, English, socio-environmental awareness and leadership modules. “Now these women are serving as teachers in my school and they are doing an amazing job,” he informs with pride. The women are now earning decently at the school and some of them are employed as home tutors as well – Paathshala has given them the independence they always dreamt of.


A long, long way to go

From starting with only thirty-five children to housing more than two hundred students from classes 1 to 8, Paathshala has come a long way in one year. Prakash has succeeded in gifting his dream school with beautiful classrooms, computers, projectors and other digital modes of academics. He plans to have a broader outreach to neighbouring villages and educate hundreds of other children as well.

Prakash has also conducted miscellaneous campaigns including sanitary napkin distribution, environmental awareness etc.

Efforts For Good applauds this incredible initiative by Prakash Pandey and wishes more people like him shape the future of our country in the best way possible.


Also Read: Village Schools In Madhya Pradesh Get 100 Digital Classrooms, Thanks To This Organisation

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,49,369 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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