Meet two enterprising girls, Muskan and Khushbu from the Samavesh project in Bhopal. Muskan’s team was one of the winners of the Wipro Earthian Award (2020). Unfortunately, she couldn’t continue her education due to financial constraints and had to drop out of school after 8th grade. Khushbu is a grade 6 student.
Eager to help others continue their educational journeys, this team of 2 manages the Samavesh community learning centre at Dhamkheda sector-B. Muskan is 16 years old and plays the role of Chote Guruji, while 11-year-old Khushbu is the centre’s Chote Ustaad. They engage more than 30 students in a multi-grade multi-level (MGML) classroom setting where they not only teach Math and Hindi but also conduct activities like puppetry, origami, story-telling and poem recitation.
A recent incident in the life of these two girls exemplifies the famous adage, “opportunities come to those who seek them.” Bhopal was lashed by heavy rains in the last week of July this year. The storm water drains overflowed and flooded into several homes. Slums in the city were worst-hit. Muskan and Khushbu were among many who lost their homes to this deluge. The primary school in Dhamkheda Sector-B became their home for the next few days. Needless to say, all the residents of the primary school were feeling hopeless and miserable. The anxiety caused by seeing their homes washed away and being stranded indefinitely at the school was overwhelming indeed.
Deluge in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh during Bhopal floods, July 2022
Resilience and never give up attitudes demonstrated by these young leaders and their mentee students at Samavesh
Aftermath of the Bhopal floods at Samavesh
Unfazed by the calamity, Muskan and Khushbu saw an opportunity in this misery. They got together and decided to restart the community centre. Armed with their innovative spirit and the resources that were stocked up at the centre, they began their activities for children. A new day dawned and the centre began functioning as usual. The homeless children and their families felt reassured, hopeful and positive!
“We enjoy facilitating the different activities at the centre. It has made us immensely confident. We have gained a lot from working here,” the girls say with shy smiles. They are an inspiration to the children at the centre. The children love their Chote Guruji and Chote Ustaad very much and are eager participants in all the activities. Our best wishes to these shining stars. May they continue to spread the Khushbu (fragrance) of their enthusiasm and their Muskan (smiles) among their peers.
Samavesh Society for development and governance is a nongovernmental organization based in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Samavesh’s primary aim is to enhance the quality of education in target schools so that children can achieve the minimum grade-level competencies. So far 200 teachers and 4,500 children in 82 government primary schools have benefited from the program. Involving children from the schools and communities as Chote Guruji (teacher) and Chote Ustaad (assistant teacher) to facilitate peer learning is a unique offering which positions children in the community as leaders and also allows Samavesh to optimize their staff requirements.