A group of students from VIIT, Pune changed the face of Jamgaon, a village they adopted a couple of years ago
Posted On Thursday, September 30, 2010
|Chetan Koli teaching village kids|
|Amit Kothavde tutors Hrishikesh in his house in the village. Students went to the rural children’s homes in the evenings to give them guidance|
|Students from VIIT who adopted Jamgaon (L-R): Raviraj, Akshay, Professor Acharya, Amit, Chetan and Ankit|
|The village road that the VIIT |
students built through shramdaan
|Varad Ahire, a Class IV student, who recently won a scholarship|
|Sunil Ahire a schoolteacher at the primary school in the village|
|The solar lamp that the engineeering students created in the VIIT lab, with funds from the college. Now, they want to bring renewable energy to the village|
|The village of Jamgaon which consists of about 120 houses. The village only has a primary school and if kids want to study beyond Class IV, they have to travel to a nearby village|
Chimneys are lit and eager children look for an approaching tai or dada who then demystify the complexities of fractions or show them how simple it is to construct a grammatical sentence in English.
Tai and dada didn’t stop at education, they cajoled the village drunks to give up alcohol and also made the villagers aware of basic sanitation.
Tai and dada are none other than city-bred engineering students from the Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology (VIIT) – youth who want to bridge the gap between India and Bharat.
These students from Pune adopted the hamlet situated about 40 kilometres from Pune and are trying hard to improve the quality of life for these villagers. A task they have been labouring over for the last couple of years. And the fruit of their labour is seen in Sarika Dhok from Jamgaon.
Sarika, who was motivated and helped academically by these students, has now secured admission to an engineering course in a VIIT. She is the first girl from the village to have chosen engineering as a future career. But Sarika is not the only trophy these students have managed to win.
Many more students in the village have benefitted academically from the guidance given to them by the VIITians. The village also won an award for Nirmal Gram, as the students helped them build toilets.
How it began
The movement to open new avenues for the rural children began with a wish to participate in the National Service Scheme (NSS) and the Samartha Bharat Abhiyan initiated by the University of Pune.
But instead of limiting themselves to the 10-day outdoor camp, which included planting trees and some other activities, these students kept going back to the village they had adopted and continued giving time and lessons to the children. “The movement started with barely 40 students back in 2008.
But there are 300 registrations now”, said Dr Ravindra Acharya, co-ordinator of the Samartha Bharat Abhiyan at VIIT. “We, along with S M Umrani, head of Samartha Bharat Abhiyan of our college and our principal A S Tavildar decided to continue with work in the village long term. Our students also supported us,” he added.
Bonding with the villagers
AAkshay Nahar, Chetan Koli, Raviraj Shivchhand, Nikhil Patil and Anuradha Dhumal, all final year BE students of VIIT have lots of stories to share.
They used to ride to the village every weekend to and take up teaching, in addition to giving advice and tips to rural kids. “We have been working in the village for the last couple of years, and now we have developed a close bond with the villagers,”says Akshay.
Amit Kothavde and Ankit Bhutoria who are in the third year now, joined the team a little later, but are working equally hard.
“Each student adopted a house. We went there to teach the children there in the evenings,” they said. Chetan Koli was touched by the generosity of the Ohol family that he adopted.
“The Ohols depend on farming. There are many members in their family and they stay in a really small, one-room hut. Even though they couldn’t afford it, they used to offer me tea with milk. They generally didn’t have milk at home. I taught Sonali Ohol, a Class VII girl Geometry and English. She is really brilliant.”
Akshay Nahar added, “Now, on every occasion, be it Diwali, Ganpati or our birthdays, we get greetings from our little friends in the village.”
For Ankit, this became a learning experience. He said, “I’m not very fluent in Marathi. So, initially, I had some problems in interacting with the villagers.
So, I was prompted me to learn Marathi first.”Anuradha, the first girl to join the all-boy team has a similar story. Nikhil said, “Initially, it was not an easy job.
The villagers didn’t accept us very eagerly. But when they realised what our intentions were, they started sending their children to us.”
The village kids were given lessons in overall personality management and English speaking. So that it wasn’t all work, the students conducted different games. The students got help from the primary school teacher Sunil Ahire. He along with ex-deputy sarpanch, Sopanrao Dhok, convinced villagers and guided the students.
A scholarship too
Varad Ahire has a similar success story. He is a Class IV boy who got into the merit list for the state-level primary scholarship exam. “Varad is the first boy from Jamgoan to get a scholarship. He started loving his studies because these engineering students taught him,” says Varad’s father Sunil.
Apart from education, under the Samartha Bharat Abhiyan, these students took up the project of village sanitation. They helped villagers build toilets. Now, the village has been declared as Nirmal Gram.
“We are now trying to start a green energy movement here. We have given a solar lamp to the village. Our students made the lamp in the VIIT lab,” says Professor Acharya. The college trust provided funds for the schemes.