Published: 04th March 2020
This group is running a book drive for students whose textbooks were burnt to ashes in Delhi riots
Besides books, they are also trying to raise financial aid to ensure that kids and their families get support and can continue their education in an unhindered manner
"Ammi kitaabein le lo (Mother, make sure you take my books)!"
A student activist said this is what a three-year-old child yelled out just as his family was fleeing their home in Shiv Vihar in North East Delhi, the mob burned it down moments later. People have lost family members, homes, livelihoods, documents, property, valuables, religious articles, photos, heirlooms, trust, heart and some, even hope after the Delhi riots. Little children have lost their textbooks, storybooks, stationery, toys. Some have no hope of attempting the remaining board exams this year because they have no books to study from.
It is for these children that the cultural organisation Aaghaaz is raising financial aid and coordinating with well-wishers to get people to donate books for the children and tend to all their education-related needs. So as people start to slowly pick up the pieces, Aaghaz realised that students' textbooks had all been burned to ashes. "Usually after an incident like this happens, the drop out rates increase because school is usually the last priority. People have to worry about where they'll live because they are displaced and then they usually lose their livelihood and have to find a way to earn their bread. So education becomes the last priority because food, shelter and employment take precedence," a member of Aaghaaz tells us.
On March 1, the organisation was supposed to hold a poetry festival but instead decided to hold a meeting to discuss how they could help out the students affected by the riots. Since then, they have been collecting textbooks, storybooks, stationery items, school bags, art books and have managed to raise a lot of funds as well. "Everyone is donating, Muslims, Hindus, everyone. Yesterday a woman from Gurugram called me and said that she would arrange 30 sets of books. Thirty sets! She didn't mention who she was or anything. This is the worst violence Delhi has seen in decades but all this makes us feel like there is hope," the Aaghaaz member says.
The Aaghaz Foundation states on its website that they are devoted to eradicating illiteracy from the community. "Studies show that 59 per cent of Muslims have never attended school and only 10 per cent have completed schooling. Unable to afford the cost of education, every year thousands of Muslim children are forced to discontinue their education. So we help raise funds their fees."
He says he has also read a study that states the same, recalling his own experience after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he says, "I remember a friend of mine who was affected began to help out his father with his work. This also happens, parents are usually in such distress that the children end up helping the family earn." After experiencing that much blood and gore, children are severely psychologically affected and the folks at Aaghaaz believe that getting books could help relieve them of some pain.
Reach out to Aaghaas on their Facebook page if you would like to donate - aaghaas@education