My name is Akash Tandon, an engineer by education, a digital marketer by profession, a social worker by interest and an artist by heart. I am working on social issues since last five years and I am currently running a slum school with the name Pehchan, which works for underprivileged children in a small slum of Delhi.
After volunteering for a number of social causes like women empowerment, children education and working with organizations like India against Corruption for almost three years; I decided to dedicate all my energies for one cause in particular- ‘Education of underprivileged children’. One fine day, I received a call from my friend who was overwhelmed to do something for the same cause and we started to discuss when, where and how of making it happen. After some research, we decided on where! It was ‘Anna-Nagar’, an area which lacked access to even proper toilets back in the day and ironically happens to be right behind the most elite social world organization – World Health Organisation. Such inequality to exist, at the periphery of the righteous state, seemed unfair at so many levels. With curiosity and a bucket full of questions, we went inside that slum to see how one of the largest slums of Delhi is operating. We met many people and all our discussions further cemented our belief and idea that we were headed in the right direction.
The idea was to inspire people – people with access to high-quality education – to take it upon them and make education accessible to those who are denied it. We decided we should be the first one to give these children ‘Pehchan’ and we made our first engagement – teaching a batch of 5 students without any roof to cover our heads or any infrastructure except the roads to sit on. As the day went, people started recognizing our efforts and they appreciated our mission and realized how difficult it must be to manage a class on road. And like a Christmas miracle, the slum people gave us an empty temple as a haven to take this noble cause forward. Our journey started with less than 5 volunteers and 10 children but in last 2.5 years, we have grown to more than 200 students and 60 volunteers. The biggest highlight was a recent event organized by ‘Pehchan group’ on Diwali. The event saw the participation of 60+ active volunteers who helped in organizing and conducting a fun-filled event like dance and quiz competitions with children and saw the donation of stationary, clothes, school bags on a massive scale. Also, 25 students from ‘Pehchan’ school went to secure admission in good primary schools for the first time in their family’s history.
We are an unregistered group and it has been really difficult for us to find donors and volunteers. Despite this, we have been able to sustain a large group of 60+ volunteers and received recognition on social media and newspapers. We are in the process of completing our registration and I am confident that this 2.5 years of hard work will pay off.
The mission of ‘Pehchan’ is to inspire people around us that education is the birthright of every child and we take the onus on us to make it accessible to them. A volunteer from our team implemented this idea in personal space as well and now he teaches children of house-maids and security guards on weekends. I want each one of us to become that story, because we can only bring so many ‘Pehchan’ schools to every street of Delhi and world, if and only if, all of us decide to give ‘Pehchan’ to every child who deserves it. Come let us make education viral.
Akash Tandon| Pehchan, The Street School