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Éclair- Illuminating Lives And Touching Souls


They are everywhere, hordes of street children, some of them rag pickers, others working as young maids and helpers with their parents in measly conditions, who romp around the streets all day until they are strong enough to do the heavy jobs and become bread earners.
And on the other end, there are so many of us, students who are free in vacations, or otherwise who have enough time to whine away on gossip, parties and facebook. Éclair (French word meaning enlightened) sought to bridge the gap. High school and college students turned teachers to these lovely street kids,…no ‘sweet’ kids! Started as a small informal class under the shade of a tree in a community park, éclair has now blossomed into a street school chain working in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Delhi and Sriganganagar.
The concept is to involve high school students and college students in imparting education to street kids in urban areas, thus channeling their free time and enthusiasm to the strata which needs it. All you need is a park, street kids and a bit of enthusiasm. You don’t need a room even!
Éclair now has about 15 spirited young volunteers, mostly college students who teach poor kids in parks in the evenings. The curriculum is flexible and context based. We start with the alphabet, English or Hindi, according to what is thought as suitable for the kids, for them to get enrolled in nearby schools. Eventually, counting and basic science is taught through innovative teaching techniques. Since most of us are students, we make sure that kids don’t get bored with what we teach and repetition and drilling don’t make our classrooms dull.
More than elementary knowledge, these kids are taught practical skills that they need the most in the kind of circumstances they live. Activities like how to cross road, knowing traffic lights, how to wash hands, how to brush are organized by our volunteers. All our volunteers are students, so we have a variety of curriculum here. Thanks to our BDS friends who help us in the tooth brushing activities while the Humanities friends introduce maps in our class – the kids love identifying the little India on the big world map. Our teen volunteers usually download interactive educational content on their cellphones and introduce in the classes which is thoroughly enjoyed by our kids. We have a Nepalese kid in our class too, lending it a multicultural touch.
Street kids are intellectually sharp and smart. They already know a lot of things around through experience and just viewing others. But the circumstances restrict their learning. We were reminded of this harsh reality on the very first day of the class when one of us told them all to bathe daily from next day onwards and then come to the class. One of the kids Ramjaan did not appear the next morning. When we asked the rest about it, they said, “Medam Ji, Ramjaan does not have any water connection in his house…so he couldn’t bathe and hence did not come”. It pains us when we discover the complex economics intertwined there.
The aim is to reform the outlook of the kids – they now know what is it to dream and to aspire. Éclair volunteers are doing a good job by being agents of hope for these kids and empowering their lives with quality education. Most of our éclair kids are now enrolled in nearby schools, an achievement that makes us all smile with pride. The success of an éclair class is gauged by the volume of its shrinkage!
Éclair has been publicizing primarily through Facebook. It’s simple, cheap and time saving. Most of us have huge friend following on social networking sites – that is what we use to network. We have been posting updates and pictures which have virtually flooded us with requests for volunteering and contributing.
We aim to build a deep long term commitment with the future of these kids; be the strength to give them better lives and eventually take éclair on a country wide scale to build a better nation.
* If you would like to support us or start an éclair nearby, contact us at eclairstreets@gmail.com