Haimanti Sen, a 24-year-old girl from Mumbai is changing the lives of young kids by teaching them the basics of education. She teaches them the alphabet, numbers, communication, arts and craft. These kids live on the foot-over bridge at the Kandivali station. They are a group of 15-16 children belonging to the Pardi community. Their tribe is known for a lot of criminal activities around the area.

Haimanti Sen - founder of NGO hum hai junoon

RECOGNISING THE PROBLEM:

Haimanti Sen, first saw these kids while traveling to work. Seeing them, she was left puzzled. She had questions like, do these kids understand the importance of education? Were they even attending school? Haimanti then visited the families of these kids to see their situation. She was perplexed at the condition of their parents. They snatch their money, drink alcohol and overlook the kids. 

TAKING STEPS:

hum hai junoon-haimanti sen - cutting the cake with the kids
CUTTING A CAKE WITH THE KIDS
Source: Junoon official website

After talking to the parents, Haimanti got in touch with some nearby schools. The schools showed interest to admit these kids but they needed a guarantee. Haimanti could not give any guarantee on the behalf of kids. So, she decided to take matters into her own hands. From May 2018, Haimanti began to teach these kids on alternate days, up to November. It was difficult for the initial few days. Haimanti started out this as an individual project. Now she has the support of her NGO, ‘Junoon’. Junoon is now an eight-member team with people participating voluntarily for the cause. From November onwards, the team has been teaching these kids for an hour every day. They have a set curriculum. Regular classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Weekends are for dance, art and craft classes. On Wednesday’s the children watch street plays. 

Since these classes, a lot of changes are seen in the students. The children have grown to be more confident. Sometimes their parents restrict them to attend these classes. Their parents force them to beg still, but the kids have learned to stand up for themselves. There has also been tremendous growth for them educationally. Their grasping power has improved and some can even write their names. Now even Haimanti can guarantee that out of 15, 5 kids are ready for formal education in schools. The children also make an effort to follow rules and hygiene, not only during classes but after too. They have learned to keep their study area clean. 

Haimanti not only teaches them but also emphatically listens to their problems and understands their needs. The team also focuses on their emotional development. They equip the kids to be more productive, well-rounded individuals with a deeper sense of fulfillment. 

We create an environment that shapes these children’s minds and builds their awareness of the various skills they can practice and arts they can pursue. By being in an environment they feel safe, cared for and comfortable in, the children learn to open up and eventually trust themselves, and others. By giving them all equal attention and keeping the learning fun, we ensure appropriate guidance and nurture while keeping their inquisitive minds continuously fed.

Haimanti Sen.

THE WILL TO GO ON:

Many people are in awe and appreciate the work done by Haimanti and her team at Junoon. Initially, Haimanti herself used to shell out money for funding these classes. Now the board members of the NGO themselves fund the class. They need a sum of Rs. 10,000 for a month various activities they conduct. In the future, they of course aim at getting more children under their programme and expand their work.

The work that Haimanti and her team are doing is extremely commendable. The fact that they are willing to go an extra mile, for these underprivileged kids, to brighten their futures is praiseworthy. Even today, some parents are skeptical about their children attending these classes. Many passerby’s also look down upon Haimanti and her team. Once a lady called on the cops to complain about the class being a problem for commuters. But, to her good deeds, regular commuters came to her defense. 

Haimanti and team Junoon are doing an exemplary job to tap into the unchallenged potential of these kids. The will to make a good change keeps them going. The NGO has been recognized in various newspapers like the DNA, the Times of India. Haimanti has won the ‘Rex Karamveer award, 2019’ and also the ‘Teacher Warrior Award, 2019’. The team has also represented India at the World Tolerance Summit in 2019.  

To make a difference by volunteering, you can write at: [email protected]

Contribue via UPI: HaimantiSenobc

Read more about such inspiring change-makers:

Bipin Dhane – an IIT Kharagpur Grad from Satara quit his high paying job in Singapore to teach poor kids in Assam | Change Makers

‘Schoolasium’: a mind gym by Mohammad Sajid Hussain

Aishwarya Ravi, a startup inspired by her child’s allergies

Haimanti Sen - change maker of India Teacher Warrior Award, 2019 and Rex Karamveer award, 2019

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