Life in the city tends to make us ignorant to the realities of life, doesn’t it? We tend to get so occupied with our ‘first world problems’, that we forget to value the big privileges that we have. One such privilege is education.
Children today tend to take education for granted, as it is an easily available necessity that they are ‘supposed’ to have by default. However, education is not something that is easily available ‘by default’ to those outside the city. There are children who yearn for a teacher or roof to study under but the comfort of the city shrouds this issue, making those living in the city oblivious to this fact.
Ekal Vidyalaya is a unique effort taken by socially conscious individuals to spread awareness about the real India that city folk tends to forget amidst their luxuries. As Ekal volunteers we decided to make the children of one of the most prestigious schools in India aware of their privilege and the struggles of others like them in a rural part of Rajasthan through our socially conscious Go Rad ‘Edventure’. We took the children to an Ekal school in Chittorgarh.
At first the children were surprised when we took them to a small building in the middle of nowhere. They were apprehensive of where we were going and continually questioned us as to why couldn’t we just take them to another fort or museum instead of a village in the middle of nowhere. However, they started warming up to the idea of being in a village after the warm welcome they received from the Ekal family in Keljhar. They were overwhelmed with the warmth of the people as they showered flowers upon them and welcomed them with garlands and ‘tikas’. These students had never experienced hospitality like that before. Once they interacted with our Ekal students and learned that the building that they were sitting in was their school, they immediately started making comparisons to their luxurious classrooms and smartboards and realized how fortunate they were to study in proper classrooms.
The immediate perception of villagers in the minds of city dwellers is that they are uneducated and backward. But their interaction with our Ekal children completely changed this perception. They were taken aback with the kinds of prayers, patriotic songs and ‘dohas’ our Ekal children performed for them. Some recitals were of the level of 9th std CBSE Hindi syllabus, leaving the teachers in awe of our Ekal children. Our EDventurers taught them their prayer, a few sentences in English and performed a dance for them. These interactions helped our Ekal children and the students become comfortable with each other, making them realize that the Ekal children despite being from a village were not very different from them.
No educational adventure is complete without some fun and games! So, our Ekal family, being the gracious hosts that they are, organized a tree planting activity for the students followed by an exciting archery lesson! The children thoroughly enjoyed planting trees, as they were made to understand that by planting a tree they were not only contributing to the environment but also leaving their mark in Keljhar which would be associated with their memory. They also learned about the famous archers in Indian mythology such as Lord Ram, Arjun and Eklavya and were thrilled with the archery demonstration. The teachers got a chance to try their hand at archery something they had never imagined before.
Overall, the Ekal experience was one of fun and learning. The students were thrilled to know that were schools unlike theirs where children studied with the same zeal as them. The children gave us testimonials that reflected that visiting the Ekal school had taught them to be happy with what they have and to value their education. They also learned that proper classrooms and schools are not necessary for imparting education, it can be imparted wherever there is a zeal to learn! Thus, Ekal not only changes the lives of the less fortunate but also changes the hearts of the fortunate!