- 03 January, 2019
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The idea of resorting to a life of giving and serving the community may have struck many but is often brushed aside as a far-fetched idea. This however, wasn’t the case with Mrs. Samira Ahmed. Previously a teacher at Lady Havabai School in Pune, she felt that her knowledge could serve a greater purpose and soon she began her long and fruitful journey with Child Rights and You in December 2016.
Even though she had taught children before, her start at Pune public action group school was like treading unchartered waters. The first impediment when teaching young seventh graders was the low attendance rate of students in class. The ones who did show up would run away during the class. Before Mrs. Samira could find a viable solution she was transferred to a class of eighth graders. When questioned, Mrs. Samira explained that it was no fault of the children for they had faced negativity of all kinds in their early childhood. She further added that each one of these children were special and storehouses of talent. All they needed was to be believed and encouraged in.
Mrs. Samira while recalling her journey looks back at one particular incident that kept her from losing hope. One day, while on her way to her scheduled eighth grade class, she was informed by a fellow volunteer about the cancelation of the class. On her way back, she was approached by a few dozen seventh graders who demanded that she stay back and teach them instead. At that moment, she wasn’t entirely convinced about taking them up on their offer. But, after seeing how sincere the children were she decided that it was worth another try. What may have seemed as a regular ‘Choice of Career’ session for others was a life changing one for her and the students of seventh grade. The children were not only paying attention but showed genuine interest in what was being taught. A memorable relationship based on mutual trust had been established between both, student and teacher. As for Mrs. Samira, there was no looking back as a teacher now.
The course material for the class includes general subjects that also have practical use in everyday life such as choice of career, Science, Math, English, and Environment etc.
Among other subjects, she also taught Health and Nutrition to the children and says, “It took me a lot of effort to devise an interesting way to teach, because at the beginning children were hesitant to ask or attend classes, but as they became comfortable and involved, they yearned to study and learn new things.”
Student dropout rates almost nullified after their involvement and as children started working hard, they also learnt the value of discipline. Hence, creativity in teaching is simple, motivating and interesting.
Mrs. Samira is a Post Graduate in economics from Aligarh Muslim University and has done her B Ed. from Pune University. Apart from helping people she has been travelling to a lot of places all over the world with her husband, an investment banker. While she explored different places and met a lot of people, she realised few important things. Textbooks in schools have the same kind of examples and children look up to their teachers for new examples and methods of learning the same thing. She said, “Never hesitate to ask questions. Negativity goes away when you realise your capabilities.”
Mrs. Samira has learnt that her unique storytelling method of teaching is most effective when trying to explain complex ideas and topics. As an avid reader, Mrs. Samira uses stories that cross all boundaries of countries and culture. Little seventh graders are being instilled with important life skills inspired by the likes of Ramanujan, Radhakrishnan, Gandhi and Newton. The children are regularly tested every two months and involved in various activities and events. A recent activity involved the children to paint cards for the Border Security Force Jawans in Guwahati. Mrs. Samira’s passion for painting came to good use while assisting the children and honing their creative skills. The school will soon put remedial classes into action for the weaker students to make sure they can keep up with the rest of the class.
Mrs. Samira has personally noted a huge change in the children’s attitude towards life. They have now been instilled with hope and they all now, strive for a more dignified and purposeful life. She realizes the importance of the education of children from lower strata of society. For her, if this gap in not bridged, the entire nation will be at a loss.
“Working at CRY has broadened my horizon and facing and sharing hardships has made me more confident” says Mrs. Samira. In one of the incidents, she narrates how girls are still treated as weaklings by their parents. Education should be balanced and gender differences should be tackled from the grass-root level. One important mechanism to walk along positive volunteerism is to build relationships with whatever or whomever you work with.
While talking about her experience, she states how god has given each of us something and young adults and other people must understand that it should be used to do well towards the citizens and the nation.
“As a teacher, I wish to never stop learning and sharing my knowledge”