There are total 14 lakh Anganwadi Centre (AWCs) sanctioned across India, out of which 13.63 lakh AWCs are operational as on 01-06-2018. Started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter” in Indian languages. The definition of Anganwadi, as lucid as it seems does not always meet the necessary requirements. Meet Nikhil Arimilli, a grade 12 student from Oakridge International School, Gachibowli, who took it upon himself to create opportunities in places of lost hopes.
At Oakridge International Schools, MYP(Middle Year Program) students have a unique learning aspect called the ‘Personal Project’, where students are to involve themselves in projects that are not only bound to their academics but also with the betterment of society. Utilizing this platform for change, Nikhil set out to understand and learn about education in India. “It started off with me researching for pre-schools in India and I happened to be in my hometown, Tanaku, West Godavari where I visited many Anganwadis. I came across one of them which is a deplorable condition with 40 kids seated in a cramped-up room, no learning facilities or study materials to engage with, and the place was also void of basic resources. I then decided to help them out in whatever way I can”, explains Nikhil.
HIS JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION
Nikhil approached a couple of localities of the area to get more information and begin the process of deploying his plans to upgrade the Anganwadi. After taking the billing for development, Nikhil began raising funds for sponsorships towards the development and sustainability of the Anganwadi. He approached many corporate companies and pitched the idea using a well-planned PPT explaining where the funds would be utilized, following which he managed to raise ~ INR 8 Lakhs. He later took help from an architect from the same village for procuring raw materials from warehouses, construction, and painting. Here are the major themes of his big break towards humanitarian acts:
Improving the infrastructure:
The Anganwadi’s construction was only completed until the slab-stage with only bricks put up. After Nikhil took it up, he transformed the area into a more engaging place by adding furniture, toys, various learning resources, TVs, and play areas. “As I was doing this for a good cause, the vendors supplying the raw materials gave me a discounted fare and it kept me motivated that a lot of people do care, but it’s all about the initiation”, recollects Nikhil.
With a dedicated play area, Nikhil sourced in multiple play structures like slides, swings, etc. He even added in more well-maintained toilets. To enhance enriching learning, he procured a lot of interactive books that help students learn more.
Enhancing the overall framework:
Within the 400 sq ft room, Nikhil included wall murals, to enhance the environment for the students to feel more welcoming and engaging. “I drew a little inspiration from how Oakridge has its pre-school sections built as well as some of the pre-schools in Singapore”, adds Nikhil.
A team of UNICEF recently came in to inspect the Anganwadi centre and impressed with the work put in, the Anganwadi is now authorized as one of the best Anganwadis centers! Nikhil has also been felicitated with a letter of appreciation from UNICEF for his marvelous input for the betterment of society. Nikhil plans on pursuing Public Policies as his major, which falls in-line with his unbiased interest in the advancement of underprivileged kids.
Several Oakridgers like Nikhil are taking it upon themselves to better our world each day. From running initiative like Give Way to Ambulance across the country to teaching under-privileged children, to taking up water conservation projects; the kids are doing their bit to make our world a better place.
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