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A Haven For Twinkling Stars

Underprivileged girl children in eastern Maharashtra get two boons—a home and an education

A Haven For Twinkling Stars
A Haven For Twinkling Stars
The chatter of children draws your attention to a 3,000 sq ft structure in an upscale neighbourhood of Yavatmal district in eastern Maharashtra. A peep inside reveals three well-appointed rooms, a hall decked with artwork and a spotless playground. That these buoyant kids actually come from the most desolate and illtreated end of our social spectrum evokes more surprise than sympathy.

They owe it all to the Tejaswini Kanya Chhatralaya (TKC), a hostel for underprivileged rural girls. It was started by Sulabha Gaud four years ago. Growing up in Vidarbha’s Deogarh village, she had experienced the tribulations of rural childhood, exacerbated by discrimination towards the girl child. Years later, her work in the backward pockets of the area as the regional head of the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, an ngo, strengthened her resolve to strive for the welfare of girls fettered by fate and ignorance.

Thus was born the Tejaswini Sewa Samiti (TSS), which through TKC today spells a world of hope for the girl child. Some are orphans and many the children of labourers. Others had been bartered by their parents for liquor.

Today, thanks to TSS, one of the few organisations of its kind in Vidarbha, these girls are going to the best of schools, learning to use computers and excelling academically. In a day’s work, they also offer prayers, perform yoga, read, discuss inspiring books and indulge in vocational skills. Some even make and sell bags made out of discarded saris. TSS bears all expenses through donations received in cash and kind, which is how the hostel building was constructed at a cost of Rs 7.5 lakh.

The hostel has nurtured many a success story. Like Suvarna Parlarwar, a girl from a backward community, who recently secured admission into an mbbs course; or Suparchana Pawar, who topped the grade 5 examination in a class of 150 students. Their efforts have inspired many to contribute. For instance, a senior citizen parted with his lifetime savings to help its cause. And a few schoolteachers at the Abhyankar Kanyashala, where some TSS girls study, have volunteered to foot the girls’ tuition fee or help them with their lessons for free.

The 150-odd women now associated with the TSS have gifted their books to start a library at the hostel. The girls often participate in drawing and handicraft competitions. Some have even played successful cameos in the local staging of the epic Marathi play Jaanta Raja.

While 13-year-old Suparchana rates "reading and going to the school" as her favourite activities, 15-year-old ninth-grader Suchita Bhosle, the daughter of labourers from Dahegaon village, says she wants to give money to needy girl students when she grows up. TSS was recently honoured with the prestigious Pandit Deendayal Smriti award for its exemplary service. As for TSS’ wish list, 48-year-old Goud, the wife of a retired government official and a mother of three, says: "We are constantly raising money to meet expenses for the girls’ books and food. But commuting to school is still a problem. We intend to teach some girls to drive auto-rickshaws." Adds Manik Kadre, TSS chairperson: "To generate our own funds, we want to set up a Swadeshi Vastu Bhandaar and construct a hall that can be rented out."

Contact TSS at: Pushpakunj Society, Arni Road, Yavatmal-445001. Tel: (07232) 240616/254548/9890389386

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