Thursday, March 3, 2016

Santosh Pariyar; From a Rag picker to a trained professional….

I started my journey at Koseli 6 years ago in 2011 when I was 11 years old. I was covered with filth and stank of urine like all my friends. Afterall I was a professional rag-picker. Somehow, Renu Mam was able to convince me to come to Koseli with her. Upon arrival, I followed the Koseli ritual for new kids which consisted of a bath, a hair cut, treatment of my wounds, a set of clothes and food. It was only after all this did I see what a classroom looked like from inside.
 Even though I was old enough to be in grade 4 or 5, I was actually sent to grade 2. I hated it on top of that I totally disliked studying as I had never been to a school before. I was clear in my mind that I hadn't come to Koseli to study but only for the food and care. I recall well that I was very naughty and distracted the whole class. Many times, I disrespected my teachers but, they never gave up on me. I could not cope with the studies.
And then one day something magical happened. Koseli was planning to come up with a production called Jaamun ko Rukh and we were asked to come to the office to audition. To my own surprise, I got a role partially because there weren’t many children and partially because Renu Mam thought theatre would help us unleash our energies. Thinking back, I feel it was most the difficult thing that Koseli along with Gurukul was attempting and also the three weeks of training in acting was a life changing experience for me. Soon after that I started taking more interest in studies. But of course having missed the most crucial years of my childhood, I could not catch up as well as the kids my age. Last year I passed out of grade 6. My coordinator at Koseli gave me an opportunity to attend vocational training with the help of another organization. At Shagrila Homes, I lived in the boarding facility provided by them.  It was my first time living out of the slums, an experience I really cherish.They sponsored my training at an organization called UCEP, where I attended a course to become a plumber.  The trained for 10 months out of which, I did 4 months of field work.My trainers appreciated my work and dedication.
Now at 17 years am working under a Contractor full time. I earn ₨ 20,000 and save ₨12000 every month while some of my friends are still rag-pickers. This is not the end of my story but a wonderful beginning of a new journey.
Thanks to Koseli School for believing in me and giving me a new life. I will always remember Koseli being a stepping stone to life I have now and the future I dream of.