Our home in India is a small village named Mahim, situated 100km north of Mumbai. Growing up, we spent our summers here, going on long bicycle rides through the farms and rice fields. It was a chance for us to get out of the house and explore. Tiny huts peppered both sides of the road, with the exception of a school house. We’d often see students, not much older than us at the time, playing outside.
It wasn’t until four years back that we became uncomfortably conscious of how much better off we were than the village community. The small two roomed school amidst a huge expanse of farmland particularly caught our attention due to the noisy voices mingling into one to sing the national anthem in the morning. It was shabby-looking and quite dirty. We were intrigued about how the students could learn in such conditions. We realized that instead of waiting for someone else to make a change, we should take it into our own hands to improve the school and thus, an idea of forming a non-governmental organization was born.
We started Aboli Foundation in 2016 with the initial goal of supporting schools like the one on that road by providing them with clothes, books, and games. But after interacting with children from schools in the area, we realized they needed much more than school supplies.
Temki Paada was the first school we began working with. On our first day, the students held back, almost intimidated by us. Over the next few days, they got used to us being there. We think their initial shyness came from a lack of confidence in their social status and culture. The children needed some sort of reassurance that they were accepted for who they were and where they came from. For this to happen, we felt they needed to be proud of their roots and know the world beyond their community.
For this reason, we began planning campaigns to give the children this exposure, while also encouraging them to value their culture. We started a health campaign through which we provide the students with towels and other products annually. In December 2017, we hosted our first medical camp, bringing in doctors and dentists to give the children health checkups.
We are currently in the process of planning annual field trips. We plan to take third and fourth-graders to a planetarium and a natural reserve, giving the children a chance to venture outside their community. We have also planned the ‘Plant a Tree’ initiative, whereby students will plant trees, which will be tended to by successive classes.
We are a grassroots organization working to improve our community through lower-scaled initiatives. Although we currently work at a local level, we are working on district and eventually statewide expansion.
We hope you will join us to help guide the community’s next generation of leaders.
Saniya and Saloni More
Co-Founders/June 23, 2018