Donated by Shyam and Satya Arora, the Chakkan Hostel in Pune was established in 2009. It is now home to 25 kids, only 2 of whom are from Maharashtra and as many as 23 are from Meghalaya. This home is called unique as it has attracted students from outside Maharashtra. To them their linguistic backgrounds is immaterial as they are all happy together, happy that they have a proper shelter, happy that they are studying together, growing up together, free of any negative influences of caste or creed, under the care of Swami Chitprakashananda Saraswati, who’s the head of the institution and a disciple of Aim for Seva founder, Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
These kids may be extremely poor but that doesn’t dampen their spirits and determination. When you talk to them, many of them would say with one voice ‘Oh I want to become a pilot, an engineer, health-care provider’ and so on and why not.
Dr. Terry Papneja, co-founder of the Toronto Chapter with his wife Nimmi Papneja, generally lay emphasis ‘teach a person how to fish, instead of just giving him a fish that would last just for a day and he’s hungry the next day. Better teach him a trade, any trade, instead of his going round with a beginning bowel.
As stated, these children come from poor socio-economic backgrounds. If our readers are aware of the topography of India, Meghalaya’s hilly terrain makes access to schools difficult, their journey to a school is challenging, arduous and exhausting. That’s a major deterrent to education. Coupled with this is the inability of families, – they are large families – with very limited means, to send their children to schools.
These children at the Chakkan Hostel are in grades 5 to 7, all of them studying in the Tejas English Medium School. They travel close to 15 km to their school. To their good fortune, AIM for Seva takes care of their journey as they are all carted in the school van both ways, to ensure the distance doesn’t become an impediment to their education.
To discuss a bit of their activities, last year these children took part in AIM for Seva’s pioneering Art for Development Project that seeks to raise awareness of all human beings’ responsibility to environmental conservation through the creative medium of painting. The children demonstrated an amazing talent for art. Interestingly, many of their paintings have been shortlisted for the production of the AIM for Seva’s corporate greeting cards.
AIM for Seva goes beyond education. It helps shape their destiny so that they grow up to become responsible member of their families, community and the nation.
A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF STUDENTS
They wake up at 5.30 AM and get ready for their morning Yoga session. That’s followed by a short prayer, then breakfast comprising of rice, chapattis and vegetables. They pack their lunch – also comprising chappatis, vegetables or rice. As they return from school, they can have tea with puffed rice or cookies. They relax a little and head for some bhajans, followed by study and then full dinner. Wait a minute. It is not yet the time for them to sleep. They have to study more before they are allowed to go to bed.
Chakkan Hostel’s Rising Star is Dame Wan Suchiang
He’s 13-year old and tops his 7th grade class at the school. Those who know him say Dame is quiet and sincere and one can see him invariably helping others at the Home. “Whatever we teach, he (Dame) is able to grasp and is a very receptive boy,” says head of this Home, Chitprakashanand Saraswati.
This boy wants to study science and why not. He was an enthusiastic participant at the Art for Development workshop held at the home last year.
The Home has barely four years of its existence. It is too short a time for any of the 25 kids to graduate from the school and move on.