Annu hails from Kishanganj, a humble city in Bihar. She would’ve never thought that she will work as a software engineer at an MNC when she grows up, considering the problems at home and lack of financial resources. Her zest for life, learning and flair for mathematics has helped her to be a role model for scores of children and parents alike. This transformation has been the result of endeavours and sleepless nights of the team at Navgurukul, running a free one-year residential program for the underprivileged children at Bangalore and Dharamshala.
Abhishek and Rishabh started Navgurukul in 2016. They were well aware of the problems of lack of formal education, resources and network for the children from the marginalized sections of the society. Thus, they aimed to work towards tackling the problems one step at a time. With the objective to instil confidence and independence among the neglected, they designed a program that imparts programming skills to those who dropped out of school but still want to earn an honest and decent living. They reached out to the most marginalized individuals, including girls and transgenders and harnessed their fighting spirit to bring about a holistic change in their lives and those who live around them. The team focuses more on inputs and hard work rather than output. The program is project-oriented and doesn’t include periodic tests. It rather focuses on teamwork and building leadership qualities. This is a great virtue as Navgurukul is driven by its’ former students who act as mentors and take care of the facilities even after getting placed.
The aim for holistic learning is also achieved by ample extra-curricular activities like discussions, street plays, mentoring sessions and behavioural change workshops. This helps to imbibe values, trust and confidence in people like Annu, who would’ve otherwise led a life surrounded by conflict and despair. Numerous times they have been able to tackle social evils like eve-teasing and molestation head-on, which seems unreal otherwise. They often joke about how they’re training female vigilantes rather than coders. Such cogent is the value system and experiential learning of the students that they voluntarily give back a major part of their salary to Navgurukul, despite the problems that they face at home. This goes a long way to tell about the kind of transformation that the team imparts.
There were many challenges in the journey as well. Since most of the programming languages are English based, thus the disconnect between vernacular and English was significant. Most of the students had a shaky educational foundation built during the primary and middle school. Thus, they had to unlearn and relearn constantly. The numerous distractions at home, troubles of slum and frequent disruptions generally lead to a low growth mindset. Lack of guidance about the future during the critical schooling years results in uncertainty and involvement with anti-social elements. It was difficult to establish trust with the parents of the children who had to send them to different states to enrol for the course. Armed with their resolve and trust in the Universal Law of Attraction, Navgurukul continues to overcome many such challenges and bringing about positive transformation at scale.
Annu still remembers how nervous she was during her job interview along with 2 of her friends. Having been told before-hand that there was only 1 vacancy, they were thinking how long it will take before they land another interview. It came as a huge surprise to everyone when all 3 got selected after the company saw their passion. She now travels across India by herself and looks after her father and younger sister. The metropolitan and tier 1 cities have a substantial support net provided by NGOs in contrast to rural areas and tier 2, 3 cities, which remain largely untouched by the civil society. Annu aims to establish a branch of Navgurukul at Kishanganj so that she can help those in need and empower hundreds of children of her native town. Such is the power of belief and positive transformation brought about by those who work towards a noble cause. It is sheer bliss that is at the heart of everyone whose life has been touched by Navgurukul.
Article by Subhav Duggal, Team ulaunch.