A Hit Sewa

  • Hritvick Sen / FG
  • India
  • Aug 03, 2012




Is giving self-confidence to a poor child equal to giving him with a new life? If so, a Non-Governmental Organisation (an NGO) in Gurgaon is quietly doing exactly that.


Meet the Rashtrahit Sewa Sangathan. It was started in 2006 by two ambitious youngsters, Sumit Arora and Saurabh Sachdeva, who wished to do good for society. Recalls Sumit, “We were, and are, two middle-class people, who have been fortunate to have a good education, strong family values, and a chance to make a mark in life. We weren’t exactly blessed with money in our school days (passed from a government school); but looking at the poor kids, we weren’t so badly-off either.” Saurabh is an advocate, and Sumit a software engineer in a dotcom.

Both started in 2005, by teaching the poor slum children in Bhiwani Enclave. “A year later, when the group increased, B.D Pahuja, a family friend, suggested that we name our effort, and make it known. So, Rashtrahit Sewa Sangathan came into being,” says Sumit. And with that, the spectrum of their efforts increased. Earlier, the NGO was into teaching the slum children; now, it has five schools, with about 400 children in attendance. “We have started to teach the children good hygiene, manners, good living, how to carry themselves – and most importantly, their worth as individuals in today’s society,” he adds.



What’s So Different?

The main school is at Sukhrali. “We go beyond teaching,” says B.D Pahuja, the President of the NGO. “A few years ago, these children were dirty, unwashed, and with nothing to do except a ‘job’ at a tea stall. When we approached the parents, they were horrified at losing an extra source of income. But logic prevailed, and slowly the slum people started to send their children to the school. Now, the children are neat and tidy, and are intelligent enough to know the value of education, health and hygiene.”

RHSS arranges regular medical camps for the 400 slum children (they even had a child operated for a cleft lip), immunisation camps and yoga classes. But the biggest difference is the time that the NGO members spend with the disadvantaged children. Every festival and holiday, the members of the NGO make it a point to spend the day with the children. “We try to inculcate in them a sense of belonging, says a member. “All their life they have wanted for everything a normal child gets, and they begin to accept that they will always be second-class citizens. We assure them that everything in life is reachable, is attainable.”

Sunita Girhotra, a member of the Advisory Board, has been with the organisation for a few years. “Every year, on the 25th of December, we take the children on a picnic. Last time, we went to Leisure Valley park. And not many people know that the Deputy Commissioner PC Meena accompanied us. He spent a whole day with the kids; it was a touching moment. He had lunch with the slum children, and they still remember the experience,” she recalls.

Moving beyond the children, RHSS has now started imparting vocational training to the parents. Most of the women were managing the households in the slums in the afternoons. The NGO workers offered them a choice to learn stitching, and other activities – which the women willingly accepted. The patron of the NGO, Anurag Bakshi, donated several sewing machines. The NGO has helped several widows and girls’ skill-sets, to fend
for themselves.

Dr. Ashok Taneja, the Senior Vice-President of IMA, Haryana gives the healer’s touch to the non-profit organisation. “We organise medical camps for the children and their parents. Over time, we have taught them how to maintain oral hygiene, given health-related advice, and undertaken immunisation activities. I have been a part of RHSS for the last three years, and it’s been a
great experience

Sumit concludes, “Even from our Bhawani Enclave days, we had a simple rule that said ‘Sarv Dharm Samman’. We have never looked at the race, caste or creed of the child who has come to us.” When you have the power to make a change for the good of the people, it must automatically become your moral responsibility to do so, he says.


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