Source: Personal image of Divya Salvi with Lachmi

When I think of education, I envision a golden Pandora box. Growing up, I started traveling here and there for my classes. On my way, I would come across at least ten shabby kids fighting and playing or sleeping by the roadside aka. their home.

I let my thoughts suppress then but you can’t hold back what your gut tells you for so long. Now or never; I decided ‘Now’ this year. Every Sunday morning, I’d wake up and rush to meet these kids who gathered in a rented room. They all called the streets their home and the stray dogs as part of their family. One day I asked Lachmi, why she does not revise ABCD lessons at home. She simply said, ‘Mummy kaam karne bolti hain’. (Mom tells me to do household chores) I had no comebacks. If this is what the homeless do to their kids in a city like Mumbai, then if I step out of just this city, what must be the case of other kids? Do they know schools are as important as water? I want them to open their hands and tell me that they want to support or else education will be of no significance in their life, just as it doesn’t for the privileged kids who are forced to go to school by their parents. The question remains- How to do this?

It starts with awareness, and awareness begins with telling them that education will take care of your worries in the future. And once their parents say yes, then what next?

Given the pandemic, I’d say that is the bigger question right now. Children like Lachmi are standing on the streets with the hope that they will be able to come and meet their teacher one day, study and play games with their friends one day, learn English and show it off in front of her proud parents. They don’t lose hope, unfazed by this world. It is time we give them a small reason to stay with that hope. Collect those old phones from your house. Knock how many ever doors you have to, to collect all these phones. Distribute them to these kids and tell them that this magic screen will help him/ her meet her friends and his/ her teacher. And when you see that smile, hold it. Hold it close to your heart and tell your network how that smile makes you a superhero/ superwoman. Make this a chain and hold the hands tight enough to support these little smiling adorable future gems of our country!