Asish Das – Summer Volunteering

After completing his A levels through the Pestalozzi scholarship programme, achieving an A* and two As, Asish Das returned home in July to West Bengal in India. He decided to take a gap year to give him the opportunity to do further research into physics and maths, finish his EPQ qualification and get involved in more volunteering projects. He’s already giving back to his community. Here’s what he’s been up to since returning home in July.
My last volunteering project opened up many doors and made me capable of doing things which I never thought of doing, which led to me starting my own education project.
One morning, shortly after returning home, I saw some children playing outside and wondered why they weren’t at school. After asking the reason behind them playing instead of attending school, some replied that they do not go to school, while the others said that they are looking after their house because their parents are at work. The statistics say that at least 35 million children aged 6-14 years do not attend school in India and this is a serious problem. After talking to them for a while I realised that their circumstances and the lack of support are keeping them behind. That is why I decided to support them, and to make them realise the importance of education and help give them what they deserve.
Living in a conservative society, there is always a fear of what other people will say. The biggest challenge was to come up with an idea and then convince their parents that the project would be great for their children. I found out that many of those children did not have books or notebooks for studying, so I donated some extra books, pens and notebooks to the children who were in need. For the past few weeks I’ve spent some time each day with them to teach them and see how they are getting on at school. It gives me immense pleasure to see them studying together outside school and enjoying their education.
In the process, I found that you can learn so much from children. Working closely with them taught me how simple and free their minds can be and they are not afraid to dream big. In a session where I asked them about their dreams, the responses I received were overwhelming: some wanted to fly, while the others wanted to become doctors. We often say living a life is not easy; it`s not child`s play, but while growing up we kill the child inside us. We eventually become fearful to try out new things or reach for our dreams and we get bound by the norms of society. For me, the biggest takeaway from this project would be: we should never be afraid to dream big like children. Some people are successful only because they have kept that child alive inside them, and dared to dream big.

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