Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the actions of one person can actually make a difference in the lives of others. The world’s problems seem too big for any one of us to do something about. But the story of Rajesh Sharma, a shopkeeper in New Delhi, shows us that just one person can make a world of difference to the people around them.
One day, Rajesh was walking by a construction site in his neighborhood when he saw something that stopped him in his tracks. The construction workers’ children were playing in the dust and rubble of the construction site. Why weren’t they in school, Rajesh wondered?
When Rajesh talked to the parents of the kids he saw playing, they told him they wanted their kids to be educated, but all the schools were too far away, and they could not afford to send them there.
This convinced Rajesh to do something incredible: he decided to open a school. But there were some major problems to tackle. Rajesh wasn’t a teacher. And he didn’t have a school or even a classroom. There was no government funding, no books, no pencils or paper, no chairs or desks.
But this didn’t deter Rajesh. As the saying goes, drastic times call for drastic measures. So he found a space under a bridge and set up a makeshift classroom. And he started with just two or three children. Before long, he was teaching 140 students in his school under the bridge.
Rajesh started his school six years ago and has never looked back since. Five days a week, he leaves the general store that he owns and sets out to teach these hundreds of underprivileged children. He’s persuaded local farm hands, laborers, rickshaw pullers, and shopkeepers to send their kids – who would have never been able to attend school – to his school under the bridge.
There’s no question that illiteracy is a huge problem around the world today: one out of every five people cannot read or write, and two-thirds of those people are girls or women. Social and economic factors, like poverty and lack of resources, along with gender bias are often to blame for children not being able to attend school.
To most of us, the illiteracy problem would seem too great for just one person to combat. To Rajesh, however, the problem seemed too crucial not to try to solve. And his actions show us something important – that one person does have the power to make meaningful change happen.
Thank you for supporting us!