| Nandita Banerjee with the children at the school. Telegraph picture |
The journey from the city’s dirty lanes to the classroom has been a dream come true for these children, most of them rag pickers.
Nandita Banerjee, a former bank employee-turned-activist, set up a school, Sister Nivedita Balika Vidyalaya, in 2011, to educate the children.
Banerjee said: “When the children came here, they were indisciplined and would use slangs and abuse each other. But they have now undergone a sea change. Apart from studies, they are good at singing, dancing, yoga and sewing. We want to make these children agents of change so that when they go back home, they take back some good habits and thoughts.”
Banerjee initially got only eight students for the school. “I would visit the slums to convince people to send their children to the school. Though we faced some resistance initially, we managed to convince them finally. Eight girls got admitted to the school in 2011 and 12 more followed in 2012. Now, there are 20 students,” she said.
Banerjee spent a part of her pension money on the school. “We get some funds from various co-operative houses. A bank is providing midday meal to the students and another one bears the furniture and other expenses. Though I have been applying for a project for the past four years in the Bihar’s Mahadalit Vikas Mission, I couldn’t get any help from the government.”
Rinki Kumari, a Class IV student of the school and a daughter of a palm toddy seller, aims to become a teacher and educate underprivileged children when she grows up.