In Noida, the labour of love by alumnae of IT college, Lucknow completes 25 years

The Social Outreach Foundation (SOF) formed by four alumnae of IT College, Lucknow, completed 25 years this month. The foundation’s labour of love, is a school for the disadvantaged

In Noida, the labour of love by alumnae of IT college, Lucknow completes 25 years

Usha Rai

Sudhir and Vipin Mishra’s father had arrived in Noida from Bihar when he was just 16 years old and became an aluminium fabricator. Sudhir, his older son, joined SOF school in 2001 and Vipin in 2005. While Sudhir is pursuing a chartered accountancy course and working in a CA firm, Vipin bagged a twoyear scholarship to study in Japan. Currently, the 21-year old is working with Daikin Air Conditioning India Pvt Ltd (Daikin) as a Japanese language interpreter for the plant head. Simultaneously he is pursuing BSc IT from Amity University through distance learning. Kajal and Sheetal Aggarwal are daughters of a canteen supervisor who came from Jharkhand in 1999. Kajal recalls she joined SOF nursery class the same year. “SOF teachers and founders guided me emotionally and mentally, helped me in my studies. They taught me how to live life!” She has done her B.Com from Hindu College and is a qualified chartered accountant waiting to join a multinational firm. Sheetal is now in class XII at Om Foundation, which takes in students of SOF.

Sunil Mishra is Director and Faculty member of Guides Learning Centre in South City-2, Gurugram. His dream of running a successful Tuition Centre has been fulfilled. Son of a poor farmer from Bihar, Sunil had joined SOF in 2000. After completing his post-graduation, he worked as PGT of Accounts in Suraj School, Gurugram. He also taught Accounts in the now defunct Hindustan Times Learning Centre Study Mate for five years. Every year he teaches at least five underprivileged children free of cost at his institute so that “at the end of the day I can tell myself that I have also contributed to the development of the society”.

It was the inspiring motto of Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow, “we receive to give” that had spurred four members of its alumnae to set up the Social Outreach Foundation (SOF) primary school for the underprivileged 25 years ago in space provided by the Delhi Public School, sector 30, Noida. Fifty-eight children of construction workers, many of them working as child labour, were the first students started on August 3 1995. Initially the school functioned for just two hours in the afternoon. Preference was given to girls and the first generation of learners in a family. Freed from child labour, the children’s confidence grew and they prepared themselves to face the big, wide world with hope and dignity.

With funds coming from corporates as part of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) as well as the alumnae, the school grew and today it operates from a rented space in sector 37 of Noida.

It runs two sessions--morning and afternoon, and has about 300 students, and has a trained and dedicated staff. The Headmistress, Bina Singh, is also an IT alumna. Almost all the expenses---tuition fees, books, uniform, mid-day meals ---are borne by the Foundation. There are regular medical check-ups and an annual outing.

One of the prime movers of this concept of giving back to society is Dr Mohini Giri, the founder president of SOF. Alpana Neogi, the general secretary, says the children are supported till they are economically independent.

After completing primary education, they are admitted to recognised CBSE Secondary Schools in Noida. Currently, 58 children have been sponsored for higher education and are being mentored and monitored. There are over 20 students in DPS, Greater Noida. Three students receive partial support to complete their higher education at Delhi University.

Two students have become chartered accountants; there is a youngster at the National Institute for Technology, Hamirpur in H.P. Others have taken to nursing, teaching, become mall supervisors, hotel receptionists and one is even a dance choreographer.

For Seema Nag, SOF is her second home. She joined in the nursery class and was supported till she completed her 12th. She completed her B Com from Delhi University as a regular student and now plans to do an MBA. She has worked in the HR department of Hitachi Systems, Info Edge India (Ltd) and is currently working with Medico Electrodes International Limited.

Lily Porwal, after graduating from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, in 2014, Lily completed her MCA from IGNOU. Today she teaches at Play School in Noida and gives private tuitions to supplement her income. Her brother Ankit is working as a Marketing Salesman and Adarsh, who completes his graduation this year, will join NIT Hamirpur, for MSc in Chemistry.

Even during the pandemic, the school continues to educate students on WhatsApp. Its teachers reach out to those who have gone back to far flung areas through voice mail and by uploading photos and drawings. Students respond by sending photos of completed work to teachers. Steering the virtual classes is another alumna, Dr Pratibha Dua.

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