Building Bridges of Hope

The SelaQui International School, one of the best Residential schools in Dehradun, is a beacon of hope in the Selaqui township. The SelaQui community believes in the access of education to those who need it the most and our strong Outreach Program is a testament to our social responsibility and accountability.

The SelaQui campus is one of the most pleasant places one can experience, and it is ever so welcoming to its students – the present and the past. Across the road from the campus, you’ll find the stables, the beautiful horses and a lot of other animals on this farm that the school has. Walk a little more and you can hear a collective laughter, chatter of voices, and kids learning. If you still venture a little farther, you’ll enter a well-lit room with kids sitting and busily filling out their worksheets, laughing, smiling, talking and brimming with undeniable energy;  you’d find Sequins and the master-in-charge helping to keep these boisterous kids engaged and keeping things in order. Welcome to SelaQui’s Outreach program.

An Interview with the master-in-charge, Mr. Ashford Lyonette makes us understand how this program came about in the most wonderful of ways. The program started after our Headmaster Rashid Sharfuddin and Mr. Lyonette visited the slum in Shivnagar, a locality of squatters from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The most common job was rag picking for the children. A gentleman by the name of Mr. Deepak ran a small school for these kids, but over the past few days, the frequency of students coming there to study had been fluctuating. The next step was to take the kids away from the slum, as a lot of them were getting abused there and start teaching them in the Equestrian Classrooms, where the floor was laminated and the book shelves were put up and now the kids are able to study here – this wonderful initiative is called ‘Leap’.

The teaching methodology involves dividing the students into two groups – one who are school goers and the others who are not . The kids who haven’t been to a school are taught the basic alphabets and numbers and those who are enrolled in schools are taught body parts, days of the week, months of the year, how to read time on a clock, basic grammar exercises. They start with worksheets and then proceed to memory building exercises and then on to learning.

Kartikeya Puri a student of Class 12 who is actively involved with the program and is one of the most dedicated volunteers writes “And now, since the fun was over with, we meant business! A body of volunteers for this program crossed the road over to the Equestrian Center, yet again with a bunch of assignment worksheets, and a goody bag full of eatables, to impart knowledge to those who were hungry for it! After a mind racking 45 minutes of teaching and being taught, we call it a day, and distribute snacks among the lot, which usually comprises of a menu of chips, biscuits and cakes (the ones confiscated from our very own!) Outreach, quite frankly, has been quite the experience for any student participating in it. And believe you me, it is in giving that I have received the most, maybe not the confiscated tuck, rather the gratification of being a contributor for a better future for someone, who otherwise may not have been privileged enough to have it.”

The aim of the project is “Health, Hygiene and Education”. The School has started with the “Education” and we plan to work on “Health” over a period of time. The basic idea being to make sure that these kids don’t lose out on life, as a lot of them have to face harsh atrocities, teenage pregnancy, and very many of them are even hauled up for police investigations into different types of crime.

As I finish writing this, I’m reminded of a poem we read in class 12 “An elementary School Classroom in a Slum”, “Run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues Run naked into books, the white and green leaves open, History is theirs whose language is the sun“.

— Kartikeya Puri (Class 12) and Jibran Khan (Old Sequin and Headboy)

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