JAIPUR: A policeman has become the hero of Rajasthan's Churu district with his 'Apni Pathshala' - the school he runs for homeless children near the women's police station at the district headquarters.
Dharamveer Jakhar started the school on 1 January 2016, with a mission to make children hold pencils instead of begging bowls. He wants these children to reach the mainstream and contribute to nation-building someday.
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Dharamvir first noticed the children during his duty hours when they begged near the station premises. "When I talked to these kids they told me they don't have parents or any other relatives. Initially, I thought they must be lying but I went to their slums and learnt that they were telling the truth. I felt if I don't help them they will waste their entire life begging and started teaching them for an hour every day", he said. Dharamveer is assisted by two women constables and some young volunteers who take lessons at the school. The school has about 450 children today.
"All of this was not an overnight achievement, it took us 4 years to reach so far and now we have had more than 450 children study at the school. We got 200 students admitted to government schools and around 90 are studying in classes VI-VIII. We maintain constant communication with them so that they can continue their studies uninterrupted", the policeman added.
A van has been arranged to take the kids to the school and later return them to the slums. Apart from this, the dress, food, shoes and all other study materials are also provided free of cost. Dharamvir says it was difficult in the beginning to make the kids agree to show up. But when he found out the reasons pushing them to beg, it was clear they'd come to study if basic needs were met.
"There are many families who come from UP and Bihar to work here. We have motivated their children to study and not to stop once they go back to their native lands. Some children have been allowed to collect garbage as their parents won't allow them to come otherwise. So we decided to let them do it after school. This way at least they get to come", Dharamvir said.
But everything is not smooth at 'Apni Pathshala' and Dharamvir has got some complaints as well. The monthly expenses at the school will come around Rs 1.5 lakh and the state government is not doing much to help. It depends on donations made by people from different parts and campaigns organised by Facebook groups and other social media portals.
The thoughtful cop believes government machinery can do a lot to help the needy and helpless in the country. "With the help of the police, society and education department, we can change their lives. These children should have special schools and separate staff to take care of them. They will never come to school on their own and there should be people dedicated to bringing them out of their miseries", he asserted.