Once pelted with stones for cracking IIT, Brijesh Saroj today supports education of poor children
Brijesh Kumar Saroj, the son of a poor weaver, once had stones thrown at him for clearing the Indian Institute of Technology entrance examination, all because he is a Dalit. After having gone through plenty of struggles, Brijesh found himself a seat at the prestigious IIT Bombay.
Brijesh's father earns Rs 8,000–10,000 every month, clearly insufficient to feed six children and Brijesh's grandparents.
According to a Rediff interview, Brijesh spoke about his job as a mechanic as a child. He said,
"I took up a job in a garage in the village as a helper to a mechanic, I learned nothing there, but earned Rs 3,000 in two months. I got three meals a day. I learnt judo-karate and basketball and I'm a regional-level player. I also ate paneer for the first time."
According to a Times of India report, Brijesh and his brother Raju secured All-India ranks 167 and 410 respectively and were short of Rs 1 lakh for their education fee. With help pouring in from everywhere and the Central HRD Ministry extending a fee waiver, Brijesh got into IIT-B and Raju got into IIT Kharagpur.
After this achievement, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan met Brijesh after his arrival in Mumbai and even offered to help him if needed.
After he joined IIT, Brijesh got together with a few friends to start Samdarshi Foundation, an NGO that helps students from the slums secure admission in schools, makes them aware about their rights, and tutors them to follow their academic dreams. Brijesh told The Times of India,
"We have a classroom and a dedicated teacher in Kalyan where students, who cannot afford tuition, can receive personal attention. We are currently tutoring 15 students, but want to improve our base as much as possible."
Speaking about funding underprivileged children's education, he told Rediff,
"We have received so much love from strangers; we want to return the favour. From the Rs 8 lakh we received, we set up a trust fund of Rs 2 lakh for 10 deserving children between 12 and 13 years from our village. We will be funding their education and will shore up the money once we begin earning. The rest of the Rs 6 lakh will be spent on the education of my two brothers and sister."
Right now, the brothers are in their hometown of Pratapgarh, where they are tutoring children for admission into Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, the school they themselves attended. Brijesh is also eyeing cracking the UPSC exams. "I have been preparing for the exams along with my academics here. I will be skipping the placements at the institute," he told The Times of India.