If there is a will, there is a way. This adage holds true with Delhi shopkeeper Rajesh Kumar Sharma, who found a way out to help others without infrastructure and modern facilities.
He has been running a school under a metro bridge near the Yamuna riverbank in Delhi for the last 13 years, to teach 300 underpriveleged children every day.
Named as `The School under the Bridge’, imparts education to those who cannot afford to go to school. They are mostly A the children of rag-pickers, rickshaw
pullers and beggars.
The school works in in two shifts, one from 9-11 am for 120 boys, and the second, from 2-4:30 pm for 180 girls. The school also has seven teachers who volunteer to teach the students aged between four to fourteen years, in their free time.
And the facilities available here also must be an eye-opener to those who want big buildings, heavy donations, digital classrooms, tables and high fees to run a
school. A few blackboards hung from the metro wall, carpets rolled out on the bare ground and plenty of paintings make it a school where education is more
important than the facilities.
But he has made sure that there are separate toilet facilities for girls and boys in this open school where he is very particular about teaching good hygiene and
cleanliness. There are many wellwishers like shopkeepers who donate drinking water and statinaries. Sometimes some people come and distribute sweets and
biscuits to support the cause.
Some NGOs wanted to associate with him, but he declined the offers. “None of them were serious about children's education and their future. All they were
interested in was making money by showing something and claiming something else,” he was quoted saying in the media. He has a reason to run it – his passion.
He also had a reason to start it – his own poverty. Originally from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, his poor financial conditions did not permit him to complete his
BSc degree. He had to scout for job and later started a small grocery shop, which is the only income for his family of five now. He thus knows well the value of
education. He got the idea of running the school when he was just roaming around the empty fields of Yamuna Bank, as he was passionate about giving
education to some needy children around.
And he wants his students to take it seriously. If someone does not come for several days, he will contact the parents and go after the student. His biggest challenge is running it without the blessing of the nature. Because, heavy rains and thunderstorms force him to close the school.