“What I can do, I must do”, this powerful line by the late CRY founder Rippan Kapur, is not just a bunch of words. Time and again we have seen individuals stand up to obstacles and conquer over them; defeat their fears and lift up the society. We call these distinct people ‘heroes’. Yes, they are heroes. But here we are not talking

about famous personalities/celebrities who we already know, rather we are sharing here the story of an unsung hero named Hannan Khan who not just defeated his internal fears but has become a change maker in the true sense whose efforts are bringing about a permanent change on ground. He truly showcases what YOU can do to ensure that children can live a happy and healthy childhood.

Hannan’s story might have started long before December 23rd, 2014, but it is an important day for this is the day when Hannan officially became a part of CRY supported project Samagra Vikas Santhan (SVS), Badaun district, UP; as an Advocacy Coordinator. Being a fresh graduate, even though Hannan knew what the work was about, his lack of prior experience of working in the development sector made him fall short and he somewhat failed to display his true latent caliber at a professional meeting which held a lot of value for him and the SVS. Doubts were raised on his abilities and there were talks about discharging him of his responsibilities as it was felt that maybe Hannan was not capable enough to meet and discuss matters with block and district level stakeholders, which was his core responsibility.

Hannan’s job was to communicate with them regularly and ensure systemic change to implement Right To Education Act (RTE) in about 22 villages of Badaun and the role of the Samagra Vikas Santhan (SVS) was to provide access to schools to all the children in the age group of 6-14 years in the area and follow other children in the age group of 14-18 years.

But how was this supposed to happen if their Advocacy Coordinator was unable to represent the issues affecting children in his intervention area?

Hannan’s problems and weakness were basic. He was shy and reserved and had only little knowledge about ongoing issues on which they were working. Hannan’s strengths? He knew where he lacked. Accepting your drawbacks and working on them is the only path to evolution. Hannan started working hard on himself. He was determined to not have any more embarrassments and started working on his people skills and knowledge building. He had the hunger to learn and was resolute about the issue at hand.

Soon, his hard work started bearing fruits and there he was a young and kinetic individual who was asking questions related to his work, various on ground issues, discussing them in regular meetings and simultaneously polishing his skills by reading various literatures and advocacy materials on RTE.  It was on job training and soon Hannan was meeting various block and district level stakeholders and advocating for the issues of children.

He prepared a detailed report based on the primary sources/data on ground of their intervention area and used it for media and policy level advocacy. The reports drew light on the violation of RTE Act and was used by the media to publish stories about the violations. This resulted in the State Commission for Prote ction of Child Rights (SCPCR) visiting the area and the project team on ground somehow convinced the Chairperson to visit their intervention villages. This move impacted the district level stakeholders quite a bit.

Hannan along with the team at SVS collected data on ground and prepared reports on RTE violation, ICDS Centers and did an MDM analysis.  Due to advocacy based on MDM Analysis, a team from Lucknow came to check the status of MDM in various schools.  The repports revealed the lapses on MDM and so the team issued a notice for appropriate action against the village’s heads who were found guilty of not serving MDM properly. Consequently, District level checking by BSA and its team was also conducted. There were 14 schools that were found with issues related to MDM and therefore recovering of finance was ordered from these 14 schools.

The ‘not so shy anymore’ Advocay Coordinator of project SVS is the one whose hard work made all this possible. He was now raising advocacy issues to stakeholders at district level and media persons and also issues related to education in Badaun. The progressive thinking of hannan and the entire team at SVS has helped improve the lives of many children. Resources that were not reaching the kids came to light and additional problems were solved. All in all, Hannan is an example that shouts out “What I can do, I must do”. Let’s hope that people like him would keep turning up from time to time to lend a hand and soon more and more youngsters like Hannan would come forward to bring about a change in the lives of children which is permanent and sustainable.

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