Seventy four-year-old Snehlata Hooda, who runs a school for underprivileged children, is living proof that age is just a number once you set your heart on something. Popularly referred to as ‘Gaurav Maa’, she has been silently running a makeshift school in Gurgaon for the children of rag pickers, domestic workers, and other disadvantaged sections of society. Talking about how it all started, she told India Times,
"When I retired from my service in Delhi Administration in 2006, I told my family, 'I have done enough for you, and from now on, I won't contribute anything financially, because I want to spend my pension on the education of poor kids.'"
Since then, she has been spending all her pension money on educating these kids. When she took up this mission ten years ago, she started with a small group of ten children. Today, she is teaching more than 500 kids who each have access to all the required stationary, which was a dream back then.
What was started by a one woman army who did not want to ask people for favours now has several kindhearted people helping out. For instance, two years ago, one private firm paid for the students to have uniforms. However, in the beginning, it was not easy to convince the children’s parents to send them to school, as sending them to work meant a little more money for the family. It took a lot of conviction and persistence from her side to make things happen.
While talking about all her accomplishments, it is important to note that she comes from a time when it wasn't easy for a girl to go to school and college, or have a career. According to The Better India, it was her parents who made it possible for her. She said,
"I lived in the purdah days. Girls were to cover their head and not speak in front of men at all. I was however lucky to be born to parents who were forward thinking. It was because of them that I got to see the inside of a school."
Talking about her passion to contribute to the society, she further added,
“My father used to spend a lot of his time teaching the downtrodden during the British Raj period. It is from him that I get this zeal."