Contrary to what several outside this city may think, Pune still has a large number of orphans, homeless and street children who do not know where their next meal will come from…
From being forced to live on the streets and beg to earn a living, these street kids often end up becoming anti-social elements. They often sleep on an empty stomach and battle the chilly winter. Education is a far cry for these young souls despite their right to be educated.
Thankfully, it is the dawn of the 21st century and several inspirational and empowering stories of people are coming to light…
People who believe in the dictum of taking the effort to make the change as opposed to the world at large just complaining about social responsibility.
A true example of this emotionally empowered breed is this Pune based humanitarian,
Thomas Zachariah, who left his corporate career to absorb himself in community service.
Thomas Zachariah decided to empower the street children with education and help make them self sufficient and lead a respectable life.
It an effort to provide these children with decent living conditions, food and the right to education, he decided to help the under-privileged in association with a Pune based organisation, Good Shepherd Homes.
The home has a legacy of child-care and helping street children. Over 130 kids have benefitted from their initiatives that provided them with shelter, food and education. Today, most of these kids have grown to become self sufficient and earn a respectable living.
Thomas has been supported by his well-wishers and volunteers who join in to extend their support to the street kids and destitute’s, yet, he is doing everything it takes to gather all the resources he can to finance a new school.
They are constructing a boarding school in Talegaon, Pune where these kids will be provided with all the facilities along with primary education, free of cost.
They plan to build this school with a hostel facility that will have a capacity to house 400 children by 2020. For now, the school will begin operations from June, (primary level) and with whatever resources they have, they propose to accommodate 200 children approximately.
“There are a lot of agencies that are working in the red-light districts and attempting to develop alternate skills for the women. However, from what we understand, the mother will only move out if their kids are safe and stable, adds Thomas.
It is only then that the women can look to engage in learning alternate skills. Hence, we are looking for those kids in the age group of 2-8 who will be provided with free education. We will be starting with a smaller number initially, but the aim is to accommodate around 400 children in all.
Zachariah adds, “Our vision is to have a CBSE school. So, once we have our own building, it can cater upto their 10th standard in house.. We however will still fund the higher education is case any child intends to pursue it in a college of the city.”
Speaking to Pune365, Zachariah shared that his extensive corporate experience and media background can help raising funds, but, he decided to focus on building awareness and attract genuine supporters.
He is all set to cycle from Pune to Goa starting tomorrow, 8th feb and meet as many people he can on the way and seek support for this initiative.
“With the help of my team, I will be cycling from Pune and hope to have people understand the cause and help spread the word in their social circles. Thomas hopes to reach his destination in 5-6days
Currently, we are looking at collecting around 5 lakhs rupees through this expedition. The cost for each kid will be around Rs 5,300 rupee per month (food, education, lodging, miscellaneous). Additionally, for every 12 kids there will be a house parent to look after them.
Apart from it there are various expenses like setting up the entire infrastructure, payment of teachers, stationeries etc that needs to be dealt with.
We have already started receiving support from people across the country though our online payment methods and the entire process is safe and reliable and people an be assured that each penny of their donations will be used in providing a better life to the kids in need.”
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