A business-man-turned lawyer, Hari Om Jindal is on a mission to provide the slum children in India with an education.
While most qualified people in India are busy finding their way out of the country and turning a blind eye to the problems of the society, here’s somebody who is doing just the opposite.
Hari Om Jindal, 50, who was a businessman at an international transport industry, quit his business when his sense of well being for the society felt the need to do something for the underprivileged children in India. He quit the business and studied law at the age 43, and now works on civil and social litigations.
His main focus is to uplift the most neglected children of the society, children of slum dwellers engaged in rag picking.
Education as a tool
Hari Om started teaching slum children in Ludhiana about four years ago. At the time, Hari Om was writing a book on the issue of the suffering of children born to poor people and inferiority complex experienced by children from middle-class families.
“I was moved by the poverty and suffering of poor children. These children were not respected as human beings. They did not receive good education, hence, were unable to take advantage of economic opportunities to improve their living conditions,” says Hari Om.
Looking at their condition, he knew that education is the only way these kids could be empowered, could be made understood of the ways of the society and their importance in it. That’s when he decided to dedicate most of his time in educating these kids. Thus, in he started his initiative, Society for equal dignity for children in 2013.
“It was not easy to turn these children who were engaged in rag picking into students. They were earning around Rs 100 to Rs 150 per day. If they had to divert their time to education, they would lose their earnings. Hence, the process of conversion involved becoming friends with them and winning their trust,” says Hari Om.
In due course of time, Hari Om build a relationship with these children and gained their trust. He started sharing many inspiring stories such as the life of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. This ignited their interest in education and learning. But, the parents of these children were not ready to send the children to any place located far from where they lived.
Hence, the idea of teaching the kids where they lived seemed like the most sensible option. A hut for school just like the hut of slum dwellers was built in the vicinity.
Society for equal dignity for children
Hari Om has so far taught about 100 children. Now, he runs centers at three different places in Ludhiana.
“Unlike students of regular schools, slum children have limited time to learn. Therefore, I felt that these children must know what is going to be relevant for them and also from the point of view of the society, which required responsible citizens. Therefore, I thought besides developing abilities to read and write, they must know the significance of democracy, formation of government, role and responsibilities of citizens, public property, taxes, etc.,” says Hari Om.
He employed a few more teachers to add to this strength, and increase the number of learning hours for the children. The children now have regular classes for four hours every day.
The centre also provides one-hour special class for the mothers of these children.
Hari Om is currently working on a book for the protection of children born to poor. Through this book, he wishes to recommend ways to end illiteracy in children.