MAHARASHTRA: Haribha Sonawane, a senior officer in Asia’s richest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has launched a support system to help bright students from economically disadvantaged sections.
Under the ‘Education Support Warriors’, one can adopt students and bear their education expenses. “We have urged people to adopt at least one student whose financial condition is not good enough, but he or she is a bright student. A donor can contribute as low as Rs 1,000 per month. This small contribution will go a long way in helping students to complete their education and excel in life,” says Sonawane.
Sonawane works in the hydraulic department of the BMC. “My job is to ensure water supply to Mumbai round the clock. There are many issues but BMC is always busy ensuring water supply 24x7. I thought if I can do my duty diligently, then I can as well try to arrange quality education to the deprived sections of society. That gave birth to the Education Support Warriors. We work as facilitators between the poor but bright students and donors,” said the BMC official.
The group is identifying students who have lost both parents during Covid-19, those who lost their families’ sole breadwinner as well as those who come from a very poor family background but are eager to study. “I also come from a humble background. My parents were daily wage labourers and could not afford my education. Then, many helping hands came in to support my education,” he said.
That helped him to complete his education. “Today, I am in a senior post in BMC. There are many bright students whose life will be wasted if they are not provided with the financial help for their education on time. Once they get education, they can become officers like me or they will be good citizens. Society has given a lot to me and now I want to return by extending whatever help I can extend,” Sonawane said.
The Warrior group has identified 20 students and more than 15 donors have come forward to bear their financial burden. Things are working positively. “I am thrilled when I get calls from donors to help and the students who receive their help.”
He says the Warrior group is not stopping at only getting donations. “We are also facilitating meetings between students and Warrior help givers via video calls. It builds a sense of belonging among donors, and students feel encouraged that there’s someone helping him or her. We will also update the educational progress of the students to his Warrior. We want to develop a bond between the two,” Sonawane said.
Sonawane’s friend Anil Zore is an engineer who worked in Auckland in New Zealand when he heard of Sonawane’s plans. Zore left his job and returned to run ‘adopt one child’ Warrior program in Mumbai. “I had a well-settled career in New Zealand but I wanted to do something for society. So I returned. I want to set up this work as a mission. Once it is on autopilot, then I may go back to New Zealand again,” Zore said.
Zore says the Warrior group is meeting various government officers and big business personalities. “We are not asking for a big donation but only urging to adopt one child only by donating Rs 12,000 for a year. The donation will be used to pay fees of the students or buy books and other education-related material. We are implementing this program, particularly in slum pockets where parents’ financial condition is not good, but their children are good in education,” Zore said.
“In our country, there are many students who need constant help. We are happy that people are overwhelmingly coming out and extending help to us,” Zore said.