Bringing about change – one classroom at a time

Nestled in the heart of Grant Road, Mumbai, lies the Vanita Vishram Primary School. At first glance, it appears like just another one of the many heritage buildings that adorn the area. A closer look would reveal a world of heterogeneity hidden within each classroom. The catalyst behind this silent educational revolution – Mrs Mrunal Raiborde, Headmistress of the school. The institution has a plethora of activities, which aim at taking education to the next level, giving it a face-lift and transforming society.

One of the recent ventures, the Flood Relief Programme was an initiative by Mrs Raiborde, to reach out to those afflicted by the Western Maharashtra floods. With thousands being evacuated and lakhs being affected by the incessant rains, the situation was beyond control and necessitated immediate action. 

“That’s when we decided to be instrumental. The rains caused havoc and though unavoidable, the resources to deal with this calamity could definitely have been upscaled.”

The school unanimously came forth in a bid to do their bit. Ranging from toiletries and sanitary requirements to staple dietary essentials, the students left no stone unturned in rising to meet the cause. Thus, the Relief Programme gained impetus and stretched across twelve days.

When asked to share her thoughts on the children’s act of generosity, Mrs Raiborde said,

“In spite of the humble background that the kids emerge from, it is heart rendering to see them so willingly walk the extra mile to reach out to the less fortunate. When they were made aware of the crisis, even those whose education is sponsored, gave from the little that they had.”

Vanita Vishram Primary School Flood Relief Programme

The proceeds and items collected as part of this Relief Programme, would be personally distributed to the victims by some of the teachers themselves. There were some significant donations that stood out from the rest. Starting out with the aim of providing the basic essentials to a minimum of twenty-odd families, the School has outdone itself as the donations surged to cater to a much greater number.

Speaking of the other initiatives that the School takes up, “There’s Daan Utsav that we’ve got coming up in October. Along with this, there are visits scheduled to orphanages at Widow Shepherd’s Home, where the kids will spend some time with the inmates there. In addition to these, annually there are stalls put up at the school gate, where breakfast takeaways are distributed to the homeless.” Mrs. Raiborde adds with a smile, “You don’t have to be homeless, to get some of these snacks. Just drop by on your way to work, and we’ll see you through.”

Vishram Primary School transforms children into thinkers

Walking through the portals of this institution leaves one awestruck. Not a dull corner in sight, as every classroom and corridor alike, has been transformed into a learning hub. With a message peeking at you from every nook and cranny, this institution embraces a holistic approach on the educational landscape. With a vibrant curriculum as its highlight, Vanita Vishram Primary School transforms children into thinkers.

The School is also a centre for inclusive education. Students hail from all walks of life, backgrounds, castes and socio-economic statuses and benefit from the opportunities here. The children are taught lessons which go beyond the walls of the ordinary classroom. They are guided to go out into society and be agents of change.

Vishram Primary School classroom in Mumbai

When asked to share her journey as the Headmistress of this exemplary institution, Mrs Raiborde says that it has been rewarding. Stepping over the threshold from the world of ICSE to the Vanita Vishram Primary School that she now heads, every day has been enriching. Serving the children and giving them values for life are the main aims of the School.

“We strive to ensure that the six hours spent here, are the most precious. The years spent at this place have been a learning experience for me as I have had innumerable openings to experience the realities of hunger, poverty and other socio-economic challenges. It seems to me like I was living in another world, and now I’ve hit ground reality.”

Passing the classrooms, there are voices of children ringing all around. There’s an aura of happiness which surrounds the place. The corridors buzzing with activity and the sound of the bell going off. One would never assume, that behind the closed doors, there was innocence at its best. Those mischievous smiles had stories that would make their mark in time. With every box of toothpaste and every pack of food that was dropped into the collection, somewhere in the distance you could hear a flood-hit family heaving a sigh of relief. The Relief Programme not only achieved what it was targeted to do but forged miles ahead.

Krystelle Dsouza

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