Pilelo-Ho!
Meet a 13-year-old who can see her future
Meet a 13-year-old who can see her future

Sanchita Dangore is 13 years old, studying in the eighth standard of Municipal school, Kamleshwar, Maharashtra. She lives with her extended family of 12 members. Her father works as a JCB machine operator while her mother is a homemaker. Her elder brother studies in the 11th grade of a Municipal Junior College in Kamleshwar.

Sanchita is one of the 1000 adolescents who is a part of JSW Foundation’s ASPIRE Adolescent Student’s programme. Through this project, Magic Bus aims to bring about greater self-efficacy and resilience among adolescents from the 6th till the 10th standard across 5 schools near JSW’s factory in Kamleshwar town of Nagpur, Maharashtra. Magic Bus is also working with the parents and community members to ensure adolescents complete secondary education and have the right skill sets to pursue a career of their choice.

Our story begins on the day when Magic Bus’ ASPIRE team received a call from the Sarpanch of the village requesting them to plan some activities to engage children in the area. The lockdown has just been announced, schools were closed and children could not go out to play. They were feeling restless, stuck at home in a space they had to share with many other family members. On receiving this request, the Magic Bus team got together to figure out a way to engage children creatively. Over telephone calls and whatsapp groups, children shared their anxieties and insisted on a Summer Camp. Since being physically together was no longer practical, Magic Bus team came up with the idea of an e-Summer Camp. They put together a set of creative tasks for children for 2hours each day over 5 days a week. 

When the e-Summer Camp began on the 20th of April, it set off a buzz among students who were eagerly looking forward to it. They were divided into different whatsapp groups with one Academic Educator (AE) facilitating and supervising each group. Every day at 6pm, the AEs would set a task for the group to complete next day. The next day, children would complete the tasks and get their parents to take a picture of what they created and share it in the group. Those who did not have access to smartphones, received the task list for the month, in advance from the Magic Bus Community Coordinator (CC) who stayed in the vicinity of their homes. Once completed, the CCs would take pictures and send it to the AEs of their teams.

There was something new every day, some day it was about writing, on other days it would be about painting and craft.

The AE saw Sanchita participate whole heartedly during the painting sessions and take a backseat whenever she was asked to contribute to logical thinking. She also appeared inconsistent in her performance – on some days she was raring to go and on others she was aloof and unwilling to participate. 

The AE spoke to Sanchita about her observations to which the young girl admitted to have a love for painting. She also admitted to not being interested in any other activities in the Summer Camp. During a task which required children to think of what they want to be and how they would reach this goal, Sanchita painted a doctor. The AE spoke to her in person, asking her if she knew how she could be a doctor.

Sanchita came back the next day with a response: she didn’t know how to become a doctor. She also shared that since childhood people around her have always told her that she could become a doctor because she could sketch. The AE explained to her the entire process, right from the preparation she would need to the NEET examination that she would have to clear and the cost of the entire process. Not once did he discourage Sanchita and even spoke to her parents about their daughters’ dream. On speaking to her parents, the AE found out that Sanchita has already cleared the elementary examination organised by the Directorate of Arts, Government of Maharashtra, two years ago. She had received outstanding grades but her parents didn’t fully understand the implications of this.

On noticing Sanchita’s lack of enthusiasm, he even pointed out career options that could be in line with her passion. She advised Sanchita and her parents to visit Chitrakala Mahavidyalaya, a government-run college offering a degree in Fine Arts. 

The AE’s advice helped young Sanchita think of a career in a subject she loved: painting. It also helped her family understand the career that their daughter is likely to pursue. They have decided to support Sanchita’s dream every step in the way. Since the Summer Camp got over on the 1st of June, Sanchita has been the busiest. She regularly puts in one-and-half hours to hone her painting skills.  Her family has also understood the value of investing their time in guiding their young daughter through the process of learning. As for Sanchita, she is confident of how her future looks like – bright, colourful, and evolving like the imagination that she creates through her brushstrokes.

The e-Summer Camp brought out the latent talents of our children. During a period of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, the Magic Bus ASPIRE team’s idea helped children connect to each other and with their own passions and interests. It helped them share their experiences, and create things out of available materials. It helped them learn resilience that will protect them through the uncertainties of the future. 

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