Having no space of our own we had to seek shelter under the stilts in Sector 21-D, where multi storied flats were coming up. It proved to be hazardous and unhygienic to stay there, therefore we had to revert to Sector 21-A and hold our classes in the Market Verandah. The school continued despite all odds, moving from place to place for the next two years. Our few belongings like mats, blackboards, a few chairs had to be placed in a nearby plot which had a deserted room. At times children sat under the shade of the wall adjoining the house next door. Children happily drew Murals on the wall. The number of teachers grew. Friends came forward to help in kind.
In 2006 Prakash Deep was registered as a Trust. The number of children went up to 120. More teachers were added. In 2006 we were able to get medical cover for our children from Escorts Hospital. Their mobile hospital visited every alternate month to check our children and dispense medicines free of charge. Our efforts to seek a place for school continued with endless visits to the government offices without any positive results for the school.
Classes and syllabi were reorganized in 2007 according to the abilities of our children. Interaction with other regular schools was also started during the period. By the end of the year number of regular children had gone up to 180 although we touched the lives of many more that belonged to the floating population of India moving from place to place in search of occupation. The class structure comprised of seven groups from Nursery to Class IV. Teachers were supplied with a single set of books to refer to. Children had no books. We were giving them a mid-day snack though.
In April 2008 Prakash Deep Trust entered into partnership with the National Child Labour Project – A Central Government funded project for the eradication of child labour. This brought financial support from the government and the activities were extended, number of teachers was increased and the children given their individual sets of books. We introduced the mid-day meal programme with help and inspiration from some philanthropists. This proved to be an incentive not only for children but for parents as well who saw the benefit of their children going to school. As the number increased we sought permission to use the community centre building in the morning hours when there was no activity taking place there. However, we could not get permission in Sector 21-A but were allowed to use the community centre of Sector 21-D during morning hours. Thus Prakash Deep started operating from two locations. Examinations were introduced for the first time to make children aware of what was happening in other schools. A policy decision was taken to teach English from Nursery itself so that they would be ready to get into the mainstream without much difficulty. The medium of instruction was also to be English. It was difficult but worth the effort because children started to learn the new language with interest.
All the children in Sector 21-A were exposed to cultural, arts and craft activities during school hours. More than 70 children presented a beautiful dance sequel on national integration in Pragati Maidan comprising of classical and folk dances of India in November 2008. Number of children went up to 250 by the end of December 2008. 15 teachers paid a paltry sum of Rs. 1500 per month took the classes. As they belonged to the underprivileged section of society themselves and had studied up to the Senior Secondary level only we felt the need for more educated people to guide them. A number of highly educated volunteers joined us and started to help our staff members. During the year two teachers were sponsored for English language class and Nursery Teachers Training course respectively to further improve their prospects.
Two of our bright children Ritesh (son of a mason) and Tara (daughter of a watchman who died while she was just a baby) found admission in a nearby private school - The Homerton Grammar School. Both of them excelled in their performance in the school and are maintaining the top position.
A new programme – Random Acts of Service
was introduced as part of school activities. This was in view of the unique nature of our
school wherein residents, people passing by or coming to the market saw it operating and
got involved with the welfare of these children. They donated things, food, stationery,
uniforms, shoes etc from time to time. Being recipients of kindness on such a large scale,
it was considered that children must learn to give / reciprocate their kind gestures by
performing random acts of service to the society.
Cleaning up the community
centre 21A Faridabad In the first such programme, the children along with staff members and some concerned residents and volunteers from an NGO Sahil cleaned up the community centre of Sector 21-A.
In June 2010 the program focused on the crudely erected speed breakers in Sector 21-A. These speed-breakers have been a nightmare for the residents frequenting the area. The school staff and children decided to mark them with zebra stripes so that they would be visible from a distance and people would be able to avoid rude jerks. Early in the morning children, staff members of Prakash Deep School and some concerned residents joined hands to paint the stripes on these horrible speed breakers. Painting up the speed brakersA new class 5th was added during the new session. This time all the children got their individual sets of books and enough stationery, colors and drawing notebooks along with new school bags. Interaction with other schools in the vicinity continued. More than 40 children from Ryan International school visited our open school in the park and taught our children to draw, paint, the art of paper folding and played games with them. They danced and sang with them. Our children visited their computer lab and had hands on practice on them.
Middle of 2009 we visited the nearby slums to explore the possibility of weaning away children from begging, rag picking and child labour activities. We were able to identify and bring around 25 children to a nearby park and start our third school. The number increased with other children joining up. All the children coming from areas near that park were transferred to that school so that they did not have to walk too much. A number of volunteers from different parts of the world came to work on our project. It was a welcome change for us and the children. The experience turned out to be enriching for all. The number of children touched the 300 mark. In November the school took part in an awareness campaign and formed a chain on Mathura Road to attract the attention of people to the menace child labour posed for the country.
In the new session 13 of our children qualified for admission to Goldfield Public School. This was an achievement. Their education up to the Senior Secondary level would be free of charges. Prakash Deep undertook to pay for their uniforms and books and stationery items. Our quest for a place continues. We continue to struggle with cumbersome government rules and regulations to acquire requisite registrations and permissions to raise funds for purchase of land and premises. More volunteers joined us. In the new session in 2010 anew class VI was added. In order to accommodate drop outs and children above the age of 14, we decided to enroll them in the National School of Open Schooling (NIOS) for the Secondary Course as well so that they could clear one subject at a time while they studied for class VI side by side. First batch of seven such students appeared for the secondary examination in April –May 2011. All of them cleared English and Word Processing. The rest of the subjects would be taken up in October–November 2012.
Another batch of 13 students above the age of 14 years have also been enrolled in the NIOS and are being coached diligently by the staff for the same examination tobe held in April-May 2013.
Our struggle to acquire space for the school continues. In order to store our things like chairs, mats, black boards, stationery and books etc. we had hired a room some distance away. All the things we needed to use had to be carted in a rickshaw every morning to our park and the after the school was over, back to the room. Even this did not last long. We had to vacate the premises at the owner’s demand. Finally, to ride over the problem, Prakash Deep acquired a Porta Cabin and installed it next to the school park. The Cabin now holds our daily use items.
In August 2011 we were lucky to receive a grant from Barclays Capital and another from United Parcel Services (UPS) in 2012. This enabled us to add further facilities for the school. A shop in the vicinity has been hired to set up a small library and a computer lab with free broadband access to the Internet. A teacher to teach computer Fundamentals has joined the school since the end of July 2012. The Library has a collection of nearly 1500 books, which have been indexed and categorized according to subjects such as English Story Books, Hindi Story Books, English Literature, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Computers, and Teachers’ Resource Books etc. These are presently available to children as well as the staff members and volunteers working with the school. A corner in this room has been dedicated to art and painting on the spot with canvas, colors and brushes available all the time for those interested in trying their hands on different kinds of paintings. This has provided a welcome diversion and has enabled us to create a number of paintings.