If 15-year-old Tanay Agarwal is in a dilemma or stuck in a predicament,he would involuntarily recall Jaadu. He would ask,What would have Jaadu wanted me to do? It helps him figure out his next step. Jaadu,an important part of his formative years,is 42-year-old Supriya Joshi of Dadar,who dedicated nearly a decade of her life bringing up others children teaching them basic morals of life in a non-didactic,fun way.
Under the banner Club Castus started nearly eight years ago,Supriya took under her wings 17 children of working parents,single parents,or simply kids lonely for company. Tanay was one of them.
Children as young as five would come to my house on holidays and weekday evenings. With help from volunteers,I would think of educational and yet entertaining activities for them, recalls Supriya.
At 29,she quit her career as a software developer to dedicate her time for children. She began by volunteering with NGOs teaching children music and dance before starting Club Castus.
At Club Castus,Supriya taught them important life skills. She instilled in them leadership qualities and taught them science and mathematics but not the usual way. One of the children would assume the role of teacher. Values like service and empathy were taught through activities such as planting trees or a visit to church to make a wish for a friend.
Supriya unleashed their creative streak through a number of ways. Once she asked them to write songs and put them to tune. They were so sincere that she booked a recording studio and brought out a CD of all songs children had composed and sung.
Forty-three-year-old Pinal Shah,a single mother,credits Supriya with helping her bring up her daughter Anmol.
I couldnt be there for my daughter all the time because I had to work being a single parent. Anmol would spend hours with Supriya enjoying herself and learning new things. She learned to share and care,which she otherwise may not have being the only child. She also developed kindness for animals, Pinal said.
Supriya exposed the children to various fields. She taught them art,photography,acting. She would take them to visit doctors and so on. My daughter is now much better informed to make a career choice, she added.
As the 17 children grew up,Club Castus gradually wound up. The children still keep in touch with Supriya confiding in her and seeking her advice.
The children have now grown up and have got busy with their lives. But if you ask me what is one thing common all the 17 have learned,I would say it is a strong sense of knowing what is right and wrong, Supriya said.