“People from villages have two options to survive – agriculture or migrate to a city. Many families find daily wage jobs in the city. Some, like me, who are fortunate to have supportive parents, choose education. Others do not even get the chance to dream.”
For years, Anurag struggled against poverty, disease, social stigma and lack of opportunities to realize his dream. When he did become a lawyer, he felt like something was amiss.
He left the life he painstakingly built and returned to his village to help other children fulfill their dreams.Anurag was born in a very small village named Devidas in Auraiya District, Uttar Pradesh. Growing up in extreme poverty, Anurag has seen the worst of life. He suffered from many health problems from paralysis, gliosis (scarring in the brain) and even heart disease.
His friends are in awe of his resilience and surprised that he has survived despite all odds.
"Our family had no agricultural land. My father took a job as a JE to pay for my education. It was difficult. I was in pain most of the time. I took refuge in my books. I was determined to make my parents proud. Our income was barely enough to cover my medical expenses and run the household, so I started going to work."
Unlike other children, Anurag did not drop out of school. Instead, he took a part-time job as a computer instructor. He was just 15, earning Rs. 2,500 a month. That money funded his further studies. After schooling, he enrolled to study Law. He worked several part-time jobs and graduated with flying colors. He started working in the city, and was simultaneously studying for UPSC exams when he made the decision to go home again.
"I wanted to teach. I wanted to start a school. So I did. At first, 20 children came. Soon, more joined, not just from Devidas or other villages too. I provided everything that these children need from my savings. When I ran out of money, I started freelancing as a writer. That income, and generous donations from my friends, help me teach over 150 children who come to class every single day."
Anurag registered his NGO 3 years ago. It is called, 'Aao Milkar Madat Kare’ (Come, let us help together). Most of the teachers are volunteers. They teach outdoors in open areas, or in little rooms that barely have any furniture. Academics and education are not the same. Anurag focuses on education, teaching these children skills that will help them survive in the world as they grow up, when they grow up.
"No boundaries. Anyone can do anything. This is what I teach them - to dream big, and find a way to fulfil it. The girls here play cricket. They aspire to do more than just make rotis at home. This was my biggest achievement."
Lack of education is either keeping children in villages, toiling away just like their parents. Those who migrate to the cities barely survive making Rs 100/day when they can find labor. Anurag believes that he can help change their lives, help them fend for themselves and break the cycle of poverty.
"I am able to spare only 3-4 hours every evening to teach these children. I feel so proud when our students excel in exams, or sports. I want to give all our students equal opportunity to shine which is not possible if we don't have a proper school."
Anurag has achieved so much in his life despite all the obstacles. His story is that of resilience, survival, passion, determination, and most of all inspiration.
Help him make a lasting change in Devidas with your contribution.