I Want to share something that happened in the recent past. A few friends and classmates from NHS have formed a not-for-profit organization to support poor and deserving students of NHS-NCB. The scholarship will be in the form of paying the fees and paying for the textbooks for the deserving students right from 10th Standard (Grade) till the students graduate from any professional or pure sciences or commerce streams.
NHS headmaster identified 30 deserving (financially poor, but good in studies) students out of 500 odd students of 10th Standard based on their marks and general performance in 7th, 8th and 9th Standards.
These 30 students were given an essay, topic being, “What I want to be and Why”, and generally the essays were of pretty good quality to superb quality. Then we had the “dirty” job of rating the student essays and finally we arrived at 15 students, whom we thought are of exceptional quality.
On another day, we requested them to attend a personal interview and tell us what they want to be and why. When we spoke to each of the students, we were more than pleasantly surprised to find students at that age (all of 14/15) so passionate and so articulate! We had scheduled 8 minutes per student but actually ended up with 30 minutes each! It was so engrossing.
One of the screening committee members had this to say, “Our children would not have fared as well as these kids”. True!
Out of these 15, we chose the 10 best. As part of the due diligence, we wanted to visit each of these 10 students at their homes along with their parents, both to see that they are deserving and also to explain to their parents the benefits and limitations of the scholarship scheme.
On a Sunday, we set out to their respective homes. We started quite early, since we had to cover, quite literally, a lot of ground. What we saw at each of the students’ homes (save for two), was heart wrenching, pathetic and disturbing.
Almost all the “houses” were no more than 100 square feet, including a bathroom and a kitchen. They could barely seat two of us on the chairs in the “living” room and the parents had to sit (on the floor) or stand in front of us! Invariably, there are more than 5 or six people who live in the house! The parents in almost all cases, are not educated at all or barely so. Either the father is a coolie ( a daily wage earner) or a taxi driver, or a DTP operator, or even a “aDuge BhaTTa”. One student’s father is having such a physically debilitating condition, that he can barely get up and walk! His condition is deteriorating by the day and the family fears the worst.
But every parent has a vision for his/her child! They are proud of their ward’s achievements so far and at least told us that “Come what may” they shall provide them with the best. Also, everyone of them greeted us with a lot of affection and served what they could best.
I am not sure, if I have to admit if I am really fortunate or unfortunate. Fortunate because, I did not come such a background. Unfortunate, because I have had it very easy and therefore not a complete man! I also do not know why I am writing this. I have to confess, I saw poverty, first hand.
Five of the students have been identified and we have begun the scholarship program. We plan to provide scholarships for five students of NHS and beyond every year.