INDIA. Tumsar, Maharashtra. In June 2016, 24-year-old Jay Nilkanth More, a software engineer came to Dawezari, a small agrarian (Adivasi) village in Bhandara district, to bring out the innate potential in the aspiring minds of young children.
Community development project. Jay exhibited a commitment to educating youth who were at risk. The young children, girls and boys from ages 3-28 had parents who were living on a subsistence level.
They were dependent on the labor-intensive work of trouncing and crushing white stones meant for mass concrete home construction and preparing black tar-pitch [damber] for roads. The agrarian laborers’ worked in paddy fields [dhan] doing odd jobs to survive.
Humble beginnings. With a graduate degree in computer applications [BCA] from Dhanwate National College and a postgraduate master’s degree [MCA] from Tulsiramji Gaikwad Patil College of Engineering and Technology, Nagpur, Jay set upon the task of creating a foundation to educate the children of the village.
Jay told Transcontinental Times about the objective of his social activity. Acute poverty in the labor class melted his heart. He wanted the children’s future to be different from their parents. He had gone through a difficult life himself and had managed to achieve higher education.
A sacrifice for community welfare. Jay sacrificed his job with the TATA group in Pune to develop this new program. Empathy and persuasion led him to remain focused, despite several oppositions and doubts about his intentions expressed initially by the village community, [the Agri samaj]. He believed that something must be done for the children’s future and saw the younger generation drifting away without education.
Obstacles before achievement. Jay told Transcontinental Times that his ideas to educate their children did not gel with the agrarian community and others in the community; however, grit, determination, and a belief in his mission kept him focused on his goal.
With simple baby steps, he started teaching on a plastic carpet he bought with Rs 150/. In October 2017, with some help from two local people, he constructed a small tent classroom where the children came to learn.
By November 2017 he won the complete faith of the community, and more children began attending the class. Within 10 days, more than fifteen children attended his class regularly.
Proud engineer from Dawezari village. Jay lived on a government scholarship from Form 7th to 12th. A government hostel was provided to him in Tumsar for an initial 5 year stay, and later he lived in Nagpur for the remaining 5 years. In this way, he accomplished higher education.
Jay said, “When I die, instead of giving a shoulder-support to my corpse, I would rather give a helping hand to someone, when I am alive.”
The parents of children and elders got inspired by observing Jay’s community service and they too began attending his school. He had a tough time teaching the children because of lack of books. He taught them by simple methods. He taught them to understand the English language. He coined acronyms that helped the children learn the English alphabet and words. He drew his support from the books that had pictures of birds, fruits, animals, creating a visual image to construct words for essay writing tests.
Persuading authorities to construct a school. In his quest for a concrete building for classes, Jay approached higher administration authorities and at the district level to gain permission for a formal school.
The government authorities looked at his zeal, enthusiasm, persistence, and the work he had initiated for uplifting the poor and provided him a proper structure with classroom facilities.
Jay told Transcontinental Times that the children have become disciplined in their learning, and he is showering them with love, empathy, and persuasion. He gives a certificate for their achievements, and the children are both excited and motivated to continue their learning.
He also informs the community through a loudspeaker about the courses available for the community, like ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.’ He conducts classes from 4 pm to 7 pm for the children, and up to 10 p.m. for elders’ application to government schemes.
To meet daily finances for books and forms, Jay has taken a small job at an NGO.
Jay’s dream is all about ‘thinking big’ for the development of the village and ensuring sustainability. He wishes to see the children become a collector, an engineer, or a doctor, while developing their soft skills too, like writing and oratory.