A Manav Sadhna teacher, Tarik Mansuri, had been teaching children how to read and write at the Paldi Street School for many years when one day, none of his students came to class. Visiting their homes, he found that police had been harassing children working on the street, taking them to the juvenile jail without informing their parents; so, parents had stopped allowing their children to go out. It was after this incident that Manav Sadhna started a school in Jamalpur. We started teaching the street school classes in Ram Rahim where the kids live rather than where they work, so they would attend class after returning home from working. Seeing the need in the community and the interest in education demonstrated by the residents of the area slowly blossomed into more and more classes and projects being done in the area.
Manav Gulzar is a project that operates under the NGO Manav Sadhna. Manav Gulzar is based out of the Ram Rahim Nagar in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. This is a large slum area which is home to over 60,000 residents, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, a rare combination in India. This community is an inspiration and model for peace and communal harmony. However, like any other slum area, its residents have many issues of health, education, addiction, sanitation, hygiene, and employment. The residents suffer due to lack of education and opportunity. The goals of Manav Gulzar are to promote values, education, and awareness among the children and women of the area to eliminate some of their challenges and provide them with opportunities and resources to grow.
Manav Gulzar has worked to build a strong relationship with the Ram Rahim community through the organization Ram aur Rahim Jhupdavasi Mandal, which is a trust that operates in Ram Rahim Nagar and is comprised of local residents. Building a relationship with the Ram aur Rahim Jhupdavasi Mandal and its leaders was vital to Manav Gulzar being a sustainable program in the slum. The leaders meet with Manav Sadhna’s staff members regularly. They provide their input and tell us their concerns. We work together to troubleshoot and expand the programs we offer based on the needs expressed by the community. This relationship is especially vital since we are in the process of building a community center in the slum that will allow Manav Gulzar to become a permanent and integrated part of the community.
In the summer of 2010, we completed a survey of approximately 1,000 families. We surveyed everything from demographics, to occupation and income, to amenities, to health. The purpose of this survey was to characterize the community and better understand it in order to address their needs better. We have used the results of the survey to make a list of goals of how we can support and help the residents of Ram Rahim Nagar and are working towards those goals.
Manav Gulzar means the flower garden of blooming children. At Manav Sadhna we believe in value- based education where we teach values, hygiene, spirituality, culture, and social skills. We want the children and women that go through our program to come out with life skills in addition to education. All of our classes start with a Sarva Dharm (all faith) prayer and end with a nutritious warm snack made on site. We tracked the children’s weight before and after implementation of the nutrition program, and saw a significant increase in weight in nearly every student.