Journey of Education and Empowerment: From Humble Beginnings to a Bright Future

A Note of Gratitude to Help Smile Trust

By Pragyaben Gandhi (વંચિતોના વાણોતર – Supporter of the Deprived)

Embarking on this journey back in 1999 in Bhavnagar, Gujarat(India), marked the inception of a mission close to my heart. That’s when I started teaching children from nearby slums in a public ground named “Jawahar Maidan” and enabled their school admission process. The support of benevolent citizens from our city has been the pillar sustaining this vision, generously contributing to procuring essentials such as stationery, books, school bags, and other invaluable items.

In 2007, faced with unforeseen circumstances, I had to relocate this noble teaching activity to a roadside shelter near Bhavnagar’s revered Golibar Hanuman Temple. In 2011, I discovered an enclosed compound surrounding Dhareshwar Mahadev temple, which belongs to the Amidhara Society near Top-3 circle. Amidhara society members warmly welcome the idea of utilizing their common plot to impart education to those in need. However, the absence of shelter subjected our students to the whims of weather, be it the biting cold of winter, the scorching heat of summer, or the relentless downpours of the monsoon.

Pragnya Ben teaching the slum children under a tree

In 2022, Help Smile Trust (UK) extended a generous hand to construct a dedicated room within the Dhareshwar Mahadev temple’s compound. The Amidhara society, once again, graciously approved this endeavor. Overcoming numerous operational hurdles, the construction of this nearly 1000 sq. ft. room reached completion in 2023.

Construction in progress of the new school Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India.

 

The inaugural ceremony, graced by the presence of Dr. Shailesh Vadodaria and Dr. Bela Vadodaria, trustees of Help Smile Trust, took place in March 2023. This room comfortably accommodates 80 students. Help Smile Trust also installed tube lights, fans, and blackboards, transforming this construction into a conducive learning environment. Witnessing the sheer joy on the faces of students and their families during the inauguration was a testament to the profound impact this initiative had on their lives. The students actively participated in adorning the room, turning it into a vibrant space suitable for the inauguration ceremony.

New room constructed, with the help of help smile trust, for the children
from the nearby slum area.
Pragya Ben, head of the school, felicitating Dr Bela Vadodaria(trustee of help smile trust).
Children performing dance and yoga enthusiastically at the inaugural ceremony of the school
Students attending the inaugural ceremony of the school in Bhavnagar, India
Help Smile trustees and their family members at the inauguration ceremony of the newly built room at Bhavnagar, India.

On behalf of every student and their families, I extend my deepest gratitude to the trustees of Help Smile Trust (Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria, Mrs. Bela Vadodaria, Mr. Rajeev Subhedar, and Mrs. Mohini Subhedar), Mr. Sudhir Vadodaria, Mrs. Chhaya Vadodaria, Mrs. Khushbu Vadodaria, Mr. Keval Vadodaria, and Mr. Suresh Parekh. This noble gift of a well-equipped room not only facilitates education but also symbolizes the promise of a brighter tomorrow for aspiring career-makers. The total student headcount is 237, out of which 175 are girls, reflecting a significant dedication towards educating young women.

I started surveys in the year 1999 & teaching activity in the year 2001. Generally, this community never tries to continue education for girls beyond the 8th standard. But some of the scholars’ students’ records are remarkable. Five students have secured government jobs, 25 students have pursued diploma engineering, out of which two have completed their degree in engineering. Two students have pursued MBBS, while others have completed MSc. Additionally, 15 students, primarily girls, assist me in teaching the junior students in this class.

Students taught by Pragyaben pursuing higher studies

This journey is a testament to the power of education and community support in transforming lives and breaking barriers. As we look ahead, we envision a future where every child, regardless of their background, has access to quality education and the opportunity to realize their full potential. Together, we can continue to make a difference, one classroom at a time.