Classroom education can be a fun experience if the environment is conducive. Interactive teaching aids and energetic teachers make a whole lot of difference. But if you throw colourful classrooms into the mix, school education is sure to be a memorable experience. Two young girls have embarked on a mission to bring a smile to the faces of students who study in dingy, old classrooms. They rejuvenate government schools and give them a fresh look in order to make classroom learning fun.
“This idea was the brainchild of Akanksha, whom I met in college at Pune,” says Hyderabad-based Surbhi Agarwal, who is a lawyer working in Mumbai. Akanksha, 23, who studied social entrepreneurship and is also a lawyer, says, “When I was volunteering with an NGO, I stumbled upon a government school that was dilapidated. I just wanted to finish my work soon and get out of the school, after seeing its condition. I then thought of the poor kids who had to sit there every day. That is how the plan to renovate the school came to my mind.”
The two girls used crowdfunding, sold handmade greeting cards and did other menial jobs to gather money, and got volunteers to help them. “Our first project was in Pune, where we painted a government school with the help of volunteers. The smile on the faces of the kids egged us on,” says Surbhi. According to her, it was one conversation at Irani Café that prompted them to undertake this journey. “We decided to take this to Hyderabad and many other places. After that conversation, there was no looking back. We transformed a school, a library and a lake in Hyderabad. Subsequently, things started falling in place and I started a project in Nagpur, where we not only painted an interactive environment for the children but also kept hygiene in mind when we installed a water filter for them,” says Akanksha.
The focus on Hyderabad is all thanks to Surbhi’s connect to the city. “I was born and brought up in Hyderabad and will always have an attachment to the city. That’s is why I proposed to take this project to my hometown and transform the schools and various other spaces here. Apart from giving schools a facelift, we thought of beautifying the ponds here too. We gathered a few volunteers and painted the steps leading down to Kapra Lake and cleaned it after getting permission from the concerned officials,” she adds.
When it comes to projects in Hyderabad, Akanksha says Surbhi’s mother, Ritu Agarwal, has played a key role in boosting their confidence. “She is more passionate and enthusiastic than us; this constant source of motivation is that we all need. She always said she wanted to make a visible transformation for a better future. She now handles our projects in Hyderabad and supports us,” says Akanksha. “What I am today and what I can be in the future is only because of my mother’s encouragement. Both Akanksha and I feel that she is the tiny spark that helps us formulate what we want to achieve. She believes in us and guides us in handling any challenges that come our way,” adds Surbhi.
The two girls plan to start their own NGO ‘Samprati Transforming Tomorrows, Today’ and want to help those who want to bring about a change in society. They also don’t want to restrict themselves to just schools but want to extend their services to all public places like courts, lavatories, parks, bus stops, lakes, and so on. “We hope that people love our work and support us in every step that we take,” Akanksha signs off....