It feels amazing when you walk that extra mile to do something which makes you feel proud at the end of the day. Very similar is the story of Shima Modak from Shillong and her own NGO ‘Spark’. Modak’s long cherished dreams to support marginalized children by offering them better education, prodded her to save as much as she can from her salary in order to accumulate the basic funds to start her organization.
It pained her to see children whose parents lacked livelihood, ending up migrating to big cities and working as child labourers. She made it her avowed purpose in life to stop this gross injustice to children and bring them back to school, thereby ensuring a dignified future life.
When asked about what made her launch the initiative, she recalls, “From a very early stage, I was drawn towards helping young kids who were unable to study. I was privileged enough to get proper education but I could see many children being deprived of the basic right to education. It was my own education that helped me understand in detail issues like children’s rights and education policies. Armed with this knowledge I decided to do something that would bring education to the doorsteps of the deprived. I started Spark ten years back and today, it gives me immense satisfaction to see the impact that it has created by educating and empowering thousands of children“.
Modak laments how poverty, a hydra –headed monster, makes parents take their children out of school and employ as household workers. “Education is the most important tool to bring about change in a society and depriving children of this tool means retrograding as a nation. This must stop! It is our collective responsibility to educate our children and in doing so, parents, civil society, government and all other stakeholders must come forward to take responsibility. Only with strict monitoring, vigilance and awareness, can we overcome the direly distressing menace of child labour, illiteracy and drop out”.
Modak’s NGO has been running since 2010 and has done quite well in the field of child development by providing school education to 8000 children. The fact that the Ngo has received several awards and accolades is a testimony to it. However, running an organization alone is tough and involves a separate set of challenges. For her the major challenge remains to be lack of funds which is making the journey extremely difficult. She has recently submitted proposals and documents to various government organizations and officials and is waiting for approval of funds. “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan has given us projects to run for children but lack of funds is thwarting the progress. Most of the time, we are unable to pay our teachers or buy essentials for our students,” laments Shima Modak.
However, the indomitable spirit that Modak is, she has remained undeterred by the challenges and is now planning to open an old age home to house children and elderly parents together. “We are also planning to expand to other places like Sylhet, Guwahati and Kolkata. Challenges and difficulties are always there, but the success of my children and being the proud mother of my kids give me immense satisfaction at the end of the day. My funds may be paltry and I might have sold my belongings to run the NGO, but the 8000 smiling faces are my priceless possession. Given a choice I would take this memorable journey once again,” proclaims the dyed-in-the-wool philanthropist.
It is extremely heartening to see that despite the odds, Shima stands tall as a firebrand woman, ready to face challenges with a smiling face and continue her crusade to make a tangible difference in society.
May she continue to touch more lives!