Namaste didi, thank you didi,” is how children greet this Delhi-based educationist Manisha Bhatia as she distributes warm quilts, to which she responds with “Apna dhyan rakhna hai”. Her determination to make lives better led her to start an educational and welfare society, Abhinandan, through which she helps the less privileged in the field of education, health, and overall well-being.
What sets her projects apart from others is that she doesn’t stop at just imparting education; instead she also gives importance to providing life skills to kids and also engaging them in constructive ways to keep them away from criminal activities.
It’s not difficult to see how lives are being changed at the school her organisation runs at the GRP police station, Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station. She tells us that helping the children is what gives her “immense satisfaction”.
“I feel on top of the world with the kind of work I am doing, but there is a long way to go. Each one of us should contribute [for the betterment of society]. Even the smallest of efforts can make a big difference,” she believes.
The happiness is palpable in the children who are benefiting from Bhatia’s efforts. After a visit to her free cardiology and orthopaedics camp at the station, one comes back touched by the warmth emanating from happy children who had lined up for check-ups. Some even impressed us with their hip-hop moves which they have learnt at one of the programmes at Abhinandan.
“We also provide counselling sessions to those who are into drugs, helping them see the difference between right and wrong ,” she says, adding, “They feel very happy as they get acquainted with us and we become their social circle.”Bhatia shares that the kids also work as volunteers for others under the programme. “So, they are not just learning but contributing as well,” she says.
Bhatia’s team has enrolled kids in open school; some of them earn through rag picking and then attend the classes later during the day.
The idea is to not just provide education, [but also provide] new skills or vocations that they want to pursue. We also have some children who only focus on academics. We’ve been trying to work on drug addiction problem in the group, too
“The idea is to not just provide education, [but also provide] new skills or vocations that they want to pursue. We also have some children who only focus on academics. We’ve been trying to work on drug addiction problem in the group, too,” says Bhatia, who also raises funds to support the children in their vocational path.
“We do a lot of project-based work in villages and try to make them self-sustainable. We go a little deeper [in places] such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, where efforts are really needed. We pick up talent and also give them financial help,” she shares.
Seeing how lives are being changed and improved by her initiatives, many have joined Bhatia as volunteers to teach kids. And education is made fun through dance classes, informative street plays, yoga classes, and more. Not just that, special occasions and birthdays are celebrated with fervour, too.