Every afternoon, around 10 street children turn up at Ashok Batika near Lal Baradari on the Lucknow University campus without fail. Reason: Three undergraduate teenagers studying at Lucknow University have been teaching them English, Hindi and math for two hours daily for almost a month now.
The place transforms into a seat of learning as these children, most of whom earn a livelihood by selling items like balloons and bubbles on the street, sit obediently and listen to their teachers in rapt attention.
Living up to their university motto to spread “light and learning”, Pranjali Jain (18), Deepak Kumar Shukla (19) and Adeeba Khatoon (19) decided to make a difference to the lives of these children around a month ago. “This open classroom being run under a tree has become a source of knowledge for children like 12-year-old Zaafar Hussain, who has eight siblings. Son of an illiterate and unemployed parent, Zaafar and his other brothers earn their livelihood by selling bubbles and balloons,” says Deepak, a BA final year student.
Pranjali and Adeeba are first year students of Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at Lucknow University. “We come to the old campus of Lucknow University for the purpose of sketching. One day we were just making random sketches when Monu approached us to selling his bubble bottles. We asked him about the name of his school and family which is when he told us that his father can’t afford his education,” they said.
The trio recalls that when they asked him if he wanted to study, he was extremely happy and said, “Yes didi, we will come to study and we will bring our friends too.” From the next day, they began the class with the first three students – Monu, Rehmat and Zaafar.
As most students come from underprivileged families, Deepak, Pranjali and Adiba purchase stationery for them from their savings. “We find it very satisfying to teach these students. We also believe that if we can help bring a positive change in our free time, we should take that initiative,” the trio said in unison.
The three students said they want to expand the programme further. “We will be more than happy if we can help these little children achieve their dreams,” said Deepak.