I am not sure, if I would be able to do justice through mere words, to the magnitude of work that people like Chintal are doing. But here is an attempt to understand their motivation and appreciate their effort.
A challenging IT job in a multinational financial organization like Citibank, stable career and lucrative fat salary, what more can you ask for, after coming from a middle class Indian family. How can you really leave that aside, take a gap of two years and dedicate those two years for something that might not even pay half of your current salary.
Well not everyone works for salary though. There is this rare breed, like Chintal who dare to put their passion first and spare some time out of this busy life for a noble cause. When I first learnt about Chintal’s joining the Teach for India fellowship program, I had no idea what the initiative is. But then I realized that, there are many such Shaheen Mistry’s and many such Chintal’s contributing in the tiniest bit they can, to make some difference to the life of those, who deserve better.
It does require courage as well as concern to take that decision, dream and conceive, which seems almost impossible. Sometimes it might be frustrating, helplessly despairing, but then somebody should take initiative, somebody must put efforts to make those dreams come true.
Chintal got that liking for social cause while working for volunteering organization in Mumbai to help drug addicted kids to come out of addictions. A corporate initiative through Citibank along with Teach for India foundation gave wings to her idea of doing something substantial in the area of education.
Today teach for India has 1250 Fellows, teaching across 7 cities and 1500 Alumni. Teach for India Fellow are teaching approximately 45,000 children in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad and imparting quality education to kids. A mission spawned through Shaheen Mistry’s efforts have already started making a huge difference.
Most of the western countries have realized the importance of quality education, the education that would instill confidence and sense of belonging into kids. Thousands of dollars are spend on education initiatives in countries like US. It’s not that, we do not have good education and good teachers, but then they are limited to certain elite groups, levels of the society. If India must change, every child should get the same quality of education, irrespective of financial status of thier parents.
Shaheen’s teach for India taps into the dynamic corporate executives, who not only understand the importance of education, but really have some passion to make some difference.
It must have been very hard for Chintal who was just married and had started her carrier with Citibank to take that sudden break and do what her mind was telling her to do. But she stood with her mind, explained her passion to her family and they supported her wholeheartedly. That’s a great spirit and these are those efforts that go a long way in creating a society that we just keep hoping to be part of. Those kids in her school in Pune have already raised their ambitions and got somebody who could tell them that you have all the potential.
Being fellow you would also try to improve the education in general in the entire school while putting all your efforts in educating your own class. These two years are your chance to give what you have and build those young minds, who would have courage to dream big. The rest of the system on the other hand might not be as encouraging, as they lack the passion of a fellow. The hope is initiates like this can instill similar urge into teachers, who would not only worry about salary, but also do justice to their profession.
Chintal has recently finished her fellowship handing over the class to the next fellow. As she resumes her family duties and corporate life, she has this immense satisfaction of taking a step forward and doing her bit, which is part of a much larger mission. It’s a pleasure to be associated with Chintal as a friend and writing few lines about her is my priviledge.