Photo By: Courtesy of Rishub Das
Los Altos High sophomore Rishub Das, above in hat, works with children at Agamya School in India.
Los Altos High School sophomore Rishub Das passed his summer in the sweltering heat, but he was not soaking up rays by a pool. Das dedicated his vacation to helping those less fortunate in New Delhi, India.
Das worked with The Earth Saviours Foundation, a nongovernmental organization operating in India. He teamed with other volunteers at the foundation’s Agamya School, which offers rehabilitation and education to approximately 125 underprivileged children. Most of the children were found begging or roaming around New Delhi streets before joining Agamya.
After meeting Ravi Kaira, founder of the foundation, Das completed the sign-up process and received a lifetime membership along with an ID card. He spent his first day in India getting acquainted with the site and the staff. The site comprised numerous small tents, each serving a different purpose, from living to learning.
The next day, Das said he woke up early, eager to help the children. He worked with his cousin, who helped him communicate in the local language. The absence of fans and the condition of the classroom he was assigned shocked him.
Although the children were suffering from the heat, they greeted him with “respect and a smile,” he said. On entering the school, students recited every poem they could remember. Though Das could not understand them, he was impressed.
Das spent the summer teaching academic skills, beginning with the alphabet. He was surprised to learn that nearly all the children knew their ABCs. He and his cousin taught basic math skills, such as addition and subtraction, and how to apply the concepts in everyday life.
In an attempt to stay cool, the children often remained in the tent and engaged in art during breaks. Not many of the children spoke English, and most who did only knew how to say their names, Das said.
Das remembered one student, Masum, who understood English grammar and had exemplary drawing and matching skills. She grew up with two sisters in a small house nearby, and her family worked for one of the wealthy households within the nearby estates.
The farmhouses and estates were placed adjacent to the developing site, accentuating how far apart the lifestyles are, Das said. Masum was not the only underprivileged child who attended the school – there were many others with stories much like hers, he added.
Das volunteered at the site regularly for the three weeks he was in India. He and his family also donated clothes, books, cleaning supplies and food to help the children.
For more information on The Earth Saviour Foundation, visit earthsaviours.in.