Rajkot, Feb 23 (UNI) After dark days, a ray of hope is shining in tender eyes of the nearly 400 slum children in the city, who were earlier normally busy picking rags or doing household chores to support their family.
Thanks to the efforts of--Jitu and Rehana--a couple that has taken up the task of educating these slum children and inspiring them to lead a better life through the humanitarian values of service, purity, discipline, love, tolerance and harmony.
The couple, settled in a village on the outskirts of Rajkot, has established an NGO called 'Vishwanidam' for the uplift of the slum kids in the city.
The couple not only aims to give basic education to these children but also creates awareness among masses against dowry, smoking, drugs, alcohol and other destructive addictions.
''We tried to keep children away from vices like tobacco and Bidi, then we decided to concentrate on developing self-respect among them by teaching them that begging is the biggest crime,'' they said.
''Usually in poorer families, children are used as labour and sent for rag picking or are made to work in tea stalls. Some of them are even forced to beg,'' they said.
''Our organisation decided to give alternate employment to the children by training to make greeting cards, candles and toys. Their products are marketed during exhibitions and earnings from the sale are divided in two parts, one for purchase for the raw materials and remaining part of the their bank accounts as a saving for future,'' they added.
''I realised the importance of education and now I am studying sincerely,'' Bhavna Somabhai Parmar (14) living in slums of Chhotungar area here said, adding that her aim in life is to become a teacher.
''My parents sell brooms for their livelihood, and I am helping them, It is all because of Jitu Sir's efforts,'' she added.
The tremendous work of the couple within the community is being assisted and encouraged by donors and friends.
''With the help of a few donors, the management of some schools have started letting the children learn computers. They now get good education in some of the best schools in Rajkot,'' Mr Jitu says.
The journey of social service began in 2002 when Mr Jitu got married to Rehana in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad.
Initially, the couple had a tough time convincing the illiterate slum dwellers to educate their chidlren for a better life. However, gradually, they became popular among children living in the slums of Chhotunagar, Laxminagar, Shantinagar and Anand par area of the city.
Although their educational message focuses on the importance of hygiene and good behaviour, their efforts have encouraged parents to enroll their children in the nearby better-equipped schools.
Mr Jitu holds a diploma in ITI while his wife Rehana is an MA in Gujarati.
This dedicated couple has indeed set an example of communal harmony. And what more? They have also decided to sacrifice parenthood in order to devote their life to slum children.
UNI AV MS AS1715