In the year 2005, Nitin Orayan came across a 13 years old native boy, Ganesh, who was living in a boys’ hostel at Vajreshwari, run by a social worker. Nitin Orayan regularly visited the boys’ hostel and noticed that Ganesh was a very intelligent and committed young man, as he took care of many of the younger boys, including his own sibling. Years passed by, and Ganesh strode forward in his life completing his 12th grade, and was looking for livelihood opportunity to support his joint family. He then acquired a Diploma course at ITI, with a vision to get a job soon after completing this course. Little did he know that the Diploma in Draughtmanship would not be his cup of tea, and he was left confused and distraught about this ill placed setting for his learning. He got in touch with Nitin for advice, and he suggested him to drop the course and join the LSF centre. Soon, Ganesh was admitted to a Diploma in Computer Software (DCS) that he enjoyed learning and did extremely well with top scores.
He was empowered to set up a computer center through collection of used computers and accessories, at the LSF learning centre, where the native children (age12 +) in the vicinity were invited to come regularly and learn computer basics. In a short period of 4 years (2014-18), Ganesh has risen above the common to head the E-Learning Computer project at LSF that provides the hardware and computer course at 15 Zilla Parishad schools located at remote areas across the Palghar district, with a team of 16 outreach computer teachers, who are trained under him. Ganesh’s is a tall success story that LSF proudly presents to its stakeholders for the sole reason that empowering local youth and building their leadership skills is at the very heart of the Learning Space ethos – we hope that many young members of the native communities of Thane and Palghar district will follow footsteps of Ganesh, and work for a better tomorrow.
A girl only 11 years of age in 2005, Monika would walk only half a kilometer to reach a new supplementary school in her village Ganeshpuri, called Learning Space, to learn some English, and have loads of fun learning to paint, dance and sing.
Fatherless, and being brought up by a single mother struggling to make two ends meet, she did not know what her life was meant to be, beyond the sunrise and sunset of the day.
Then came end of school and having completed 12th std. From Anearby College in Vasai, she hit a major hurdle for further studies; her mother could not have supported her to do University education, with her meager income.
At this point in time, the Founder of Learning Space Foundation (LSF), Nitin Orayan intervened and decided to work in two essential directions for Monika – one was to allow Monika to go around varied disciplines offered by colleges and to make a choice; second was to find sponsors to support her studies for a period of 3 years.
In a matter of weeks, Monika was supported to be counselled at a cell at International Mumbai School to derive a direction forward; and visit colleges that offered art and architecture, travel and tourism, and hotel management and so forth, as these were found to be her preferred choices in the career counselling session.
Monika chose to be part of a B.Sc in Hospitality and Hotel Management, and LSF did all in it's ability to find the financial backing needed for Monika to complete her studies and get a degree.
Just around the graduation, and an internship at a prestigious Mumbai airport hotel, Monika had the golden opportunity to be at a recruitment and selection at the Oberoi Hotels Ltd. and at this time Monika was again closely coached and supported to give several tests, group discussion and interview to be finally selected at the Oberoi Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
Her interest in intercontinental cooking got her an assistant's job at the Vetro Italian Restaurant at the Oberoi Hotels, and she worked for 3 ½ years at this restaurant learning varied forms of European cuisine. Very recently, in March 2019, Monika chose to be hired by an international cruise company, and is now sailing to many shores across the world, showcasing her talent as an experienced chef in utopian cuisine.
Monika runs a YouTube channel that has over 15000 subscribers and regularly posts videos on plating, pasta-making and other facets of European cooking, and previously also appeared on a TV cookery show, sharing many aspects of her interesting life and transition from a village girl in difficulty to a professional chef in the city.
Chaitali Mhaskar hails from the village Chamble situated in the Wada Taluka of the newly instituted Palghar District in Maharashtra. She was a little 12 year old girl, when her father passed away, leaving her with a homemaker mother and two younger siblings in dire circumstances. In this situation, Chaitali passed her 10th std. exams. She could easily get admitted to any college but she chose to stick to her childhood passion for farming. She chose to get a Diploma in Horticulture and in 2 years, with hard work completed the same. After a year of being denied any suitable career opening in the farming field, and out of sheer poor circumstances, she joined as a part time clerk in an office nearby. When she was introduced to LSF, an idea sprang up in the minds of LSF seniors, and soon a project was conceived for Chaitali– one that would inform and educate middle-level & high school students in a few schools around LSF center, encouraging and motivating them to learn traditional methods of organic farming and practice them in the form of setting up kitchen gardens in their schools & the backyards of their homes. A year has passed by, and Chaitali Mhaskar has accomplished great results from the students, and also emerged as an educator and a leader among the rural youth, guiding the new generation towards their own passion of farming, and one who has not been deterred by her difficult circumstances, with just a little turn of a friendly card offered to her by the Learning Space Project.
Vaibhavi Palve, a resident of the Base village in upper North Bhiwandi Taluka, and a remote area in the Thane district, approached Nitin along with her husband, an employee of the Municipal Corporation, with a request to support setting up of an English medium primary school in their locality. Nitin spoke about LSF’s objective of strengthening the vernacular Marathi primary schools run by the Zilla Parishad body. Vaibhavi and her husband were convinced about the nobility in this endeavor, and in June 2016, Vaibhavi joined the LSF project to help English learning in vernacular primary schools in Bhiwandi Taluka. Vaibhavi, being highly qualified with a B.A & B.Ed., with specialization in English subject, appearing for her Masters’ exams, did extremely well as an outreach facilitator supporting the schools in her area.
In the following year, she was appointed as the Police Patil in her village and has a respected position in her village and the surrounding area. Her passion for utilizing her education and knowledge of English language has led her to give her best to primary school children of Zilla Parishad Schools, and in the year 2017-18, Vaibhavi emerged as a leader among the rural youth in her commitment to work for rural development.
Punam comes from a tribal hamlet of Nevalpada located in the interior part of taluka Wada near famous pilgrim village of Vajreshwari/ Ganeshpuri. She is the eldest of 3 siblings. Her family occupation is farming. They own a small piece land (less than an acre). Her entire family is engaged in the farming activity. Punam did her schooling (up to 4th grade) in ZP school, Nevalpada and higher primary school (7th Grade), in ZP school, Kelthan and her secondary schooling in SG Patil Vidyalaya in Village kelthan around 2.5 km away. On completion of the schooling, she was told by her father to stop further education and help in their family in farming and look after household work. Punam had a strong desire to continue her studies and complete graduation. She confronted her father and got permission to study further. She got admission for graduation course in a college in Vajreshwari.
For next 5 years Punam walked 5 km to her collage everyday and completed her graduation to get a degree in Arts in 2014. She is the first girl from Nevalpada to complete graduation. She wanted to pursue her post graduation, however couldn’t do so for want of financial support from the family as her father had to support education of 2 other siblings and income was just not enough to sustain their family and support her education.
After Edelgive Foundation started supported ELDP in 15-16, LSF could engage rural educated girls as trainee facilitators. All 15 girls were from the neighboring villages and hamlets and were looking for an opportunity to earn a livelihood. This support enabled us to gainfully employ them and helped support their future education or provide financial help to their families.
With this support Punam started saving money for course fees from her stipend received from EDLP and gained much needed financial independence to support herself for training to be a police.
During training and in early months, Punam came across as a quiet girl doing more of listening and absorbing the information passed on to her. Being her first ever assignment and having no experience of teaching the early months were proved to be a intensive leaning process for her. Her learning curve has been very steep. She steadily gasped the concepts and methodology being imparted. The on-field implementation started in early July14. She was allotted two villages Nevalpada and Lohope. Nevalpada was her own village. After a tentative start, she started to enjoy her work and was overwhelmed with the response received from kids. It was an emotional moment for her to go back to the same school where she once studied and teach the kids in her own village and work with the same teacher who once taught her.
As the year progressed, Punam’s dedication and progress in her work started reflecting from the positive reviews received from the school teachers, ELDP supervisors and also Muktangan trainers.
Punam enjoys being with children. She feels active learning method works well with rural children. Chlidren are able sing songs in Marathi and English, recognize pictures and letters, participate in group activities. It has helped them become more confident, expressive, have improved their language and communication skills and most importantly brought a lot of joy to the children. She feels the children are happier than before in school. She feels exposure of English from an early age will be useful when these kids grow up and enter the world.
Punam feels that she is more confident, expressive and independent after joining ELDP. Though her main intention after graduation was to secure a job to support her family and education of her siblings, her perspective towards her work has changed. She feels she has earned a lot of respect from her family and community due to her work as a teacher and she has the sense of value she is adding to the children’s’ lives. Her family’s approach towards her has changed now. Her father has excused her from farming work and her mother from household chores. She feels proud that she is able extend a significant financial support to her family. She has chosen to pursue and get her Masters degree in History and English. She chose to invest the stipend earned from working at LSF in ELDP Program to join Coaching classes for Police training; it was her dream to be join the police force. She has been undergoing rigorous training for almost three years in the morning and evening while working as facilitators. She could pass the physical tests however failed in the written test multiple times due to lack of coaching support. Eventually she decided to quit the work at LSF in March 2016 and focus fully on the coaching. In January 2018 she finally passed all required tests and got selected as Police constable. She currently is training at Police Academy in Nashik and will soon join the force in active duty.
We at LSF are proud of her and every girl of out strong team of 21 who have been making a difference in the lives of rural kids and pursing their dreams.
He is naturally gifted with sharp and rational skills which help him when he’s engaged in Practical Workshops. Niraj has developed a keen interest towards Computer Studies and works independently with MS Office.
Niraj Ramesh Padekar is from a village named Sawara, in the remote interiors of Wada. Niraj is a young 14 year old boy with special needs.
Always completing his tasks on time, Niraj helps other students with their assigned work as well.
Though academically weak; he is excellent in computer skills. He is always in and around the computer laboratory in the school wanting to understand and learn more on the subject and be of assistance and help to others.