As part of the ongoing Daan Utsav festival, the Junoon Foundation has received over 1,000 books in the last week. The Junoon Foundation has been distributing notebooks and stationery to children from several schools in Vada taluka of Palghar district. The foundation was established in 2013 by students belonging to the same village.
Onkar Gharat, a member of Junoon team, said, “As students, we experienced an acute lack of resources and facilities and access to education was very difficult for many of us. We wanted to help the next generation so that they wouldn’t have to face some of the obstacles that we did.”
In addition to notebooks, the foundation is also planning to provide a pair of shoes to each of the students.
Since 2009, Daan Utsav is being observed from October 2-8. Several NGOs and individuals participate in the event every year.
In 2016, Junoon received 3,500 notebooks, which they distributed among 1,000 students across 17 schools in Vada. They also distribute pens, pencils, erasers, drawing books and geometry instruments among older children, though their primary focus remains on notebooks.
“In 2016, we didn’t anticipate such an overwhelming response. As a result, we were left with 500 books even after giving four notebooks to every student in the 17 schools. In June this year, we donated the remaining notebooks to students across five schools in Bhiwandi,” said Gharat, who now studies in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Hyderabad.
Vaishali Kabadi, a teacher at the Kawad Zilla Parishad school in Bhiwandi, said, “A majority of our students belong to scheduled tribes. For them, education is an expensive affair, even though they receive textbooks from the government. For students who yearn to learn, such a donation can make a big difference.”
Rakesh Tukaram Gurav, whose son Manish is a student in the same school, thinks children are more enthusiastic to study now. “We have to travel seven kilometers outside our village to buy notebooks and buying them frequently is out of our reach financially”, said Gurav, a mill worker.
In 2014, IFFCO Tokio, a general insurance company, was one of the benefactors of the foundation. “They wanted to make a monetary donation, but since it is against our policy, they purchased 250 notebooks and additional stationery to be donated to the children,” said Gharat.