At first glance Akash Pawar appears to be a seasoned social activist who has been campaigning for ages. But such notions are dispelled as soon as he starts speaking. The 11th standard student from Sahoday Senior Secondary School, HauzKhas, New Delhi has set up his own Social Enterprise, Nai Tamana, which he runs in Shahpur Jat and nearby areas.
Hailing from a Jat community in the Shahpur Jat village of Hauz Khas, Delhi, Aakash has witnesses oppression first hand. What with being a part of the so called superior community, it was very difficult for him to fight with his own people for the rights of others. Many times people from his own community discouraged him. His parents do support him, but only passively. Recently he persuaded people to switch off lights for Earth Hour. Some elders of the community got angry and complained to his parents about his impudence. He got an earful for trying to do his part for the environment.
Aakash has been teaching underprivileged children and conducting holistic development programs for them for almost seven years now. He started doing this when he was just ten years old! He conducts his classes in open areas around his neighborhood and concentrates on their all-round development by creating awareness about social, environmental and sanitation issues. He uses various methods to encourage innovative thinking, imagination and creativity among his students to make learning enjoyable for them. From making them understand the importance of education, to equipping them with essential life skills, sensitizing them about the environment and making them aware about social issues such as child labor and child marriage, Aakash has been empowering a generation of young citizens.
It all started when Aakash came across a family living in an old building. All the boys in the family were going to the school, but the girls were neglected. On being asked why this was the case, the father answered who would do the housework if the girls too went to school? Stung, Aakash started teaching those girls himself. It took one year of convincing before they were allowed to go to school. It was during this time that he realized how it was not only the education which they lacked but also the social outlook and basic knowledge of health which rendered them at such a disadvantage in society. Gradually, he started gathering more such and teaching them about the basic health and sanitation.
While most us were busy bursting crackers Diwali, Aakash started a ‘Say No To Crackers’ campaign and instead asked people to donate blankets for underprivileged people for the upcoming winter. For his remarkable work, he was awarded the Silver Medal at the 4th Annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, An International program which is recognizes school level children for volunteer community service.
Aakash says he derives his inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa for their remarkable contribution to the social sector. He wants to grow up to be an IAS officer and change the system by being a part of it.
He says his focus will be to bring change in the administrative system, education in government schools change, mindsets need to be changed.
Despite insurmountable odds, Aakash continued to pursue his dreams. His efforts have paid off and over the years, the number of children attending his classes have kept growing. At least 2250 students have attended his classes so far. We wish him great success in his endeavors.