Four years back when some 11 women got together to form the Sunshine Society (SS), they had lots of dreams and plans for the things they wanted to do. They wanted to educate all the poor kids, mainstream and help them lead a life of dignity. But how to do this seemingly uphill task was a big question.
Then emerged a thought; just like a beam of light from the dark cloudy skies. Why not sell raddi and spend the money generated thus on poor kids? That way there will be no additional burden on their pockets. And they started doing just that!
Then the women gathered the malis, bais, presswallas and all sundry workers and counselled them on the importance of sending their children to school. Once the parents got to know that they don’t have to bear any expenses, they agreed.
The society not only admitted these children into schools, but also started holding After School Programme (ASP) for them.
The workforce behind the Sunshine Society.
As of now, ASP classes are held at three centres, one in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad and two in Noida, one at Community Centre in Sector 50 and another at New Golden Public School in Sector 51.
Further, since the parents are poor and uneducated it is society volunteers who attend the kids’ PTM at their schools and then hold a separate PTM with the parents of children.
“The Sector 50 centre is being run single-handedly by V P Gupta, a retired AGM from the State Bank of India (SBI). He initiated this programme in 2008, to which Sunshine Society extended support in 2013,” says Rimaa Taneja of the Sunshine Society.
Interestingly, a number of housing societies, corporate and banks have extended a helping hand to the society. Apart from Mahagun and ATS who contribute funds by the way of selling their raddi, the State Bank of India is also sponsoring six children under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. “We also have many individual benefactors who bear the expenses of educating a couple of kids,” adds Rimaa.
A class in progress
This way the society is managing the education of 200 children at present. In addition, one girl has been put into engineering college in Ghaziabad this year. “We normally take responsibility of school education, but this girl is very bright, so we decided to help her. The society is not only bearing all the educational expenses of this girl but also bears the travel cost of parents’ visit to the girl’s hostel in Ghaziabad,” says Rimaa.
Apart from children, the society also takes care of another marginalised section of the society, the aged, by holding interactive programmes and get-togethers for them.
“Our ultimate aim is to set up a centre where both children and senior citizens aid each other. Children can support the senior citizens in their activities like walking/exercising/computer literacy etc while the senior citizens can ingrain moral values in the children through storytelling,” says Rimaa.