Child Champions

Neeraj Kumar

Age – 15

Chetna Manish Raj

District – Lucknow.

His Story:

Neeraj, a resident of Ehsaas’ shelter home in Gomti Nagar, where Project KHEL has been working for over 4 years, is one of our most outstanding Community Youth Leaders working in 20 different centers and with more than 1400 underprivileged children each week. Today
he balances his studies, responsibilities and engagement with Project KHEL to lead sessions on Life Skills at various slums and schools, has even led activities at IIM, Lucknow. Recently Neeraj has delivered a TEDx Talk in the Dharavi Slum Area of Mumbai, along with Project KHEL’s founder, Akshai Abraham where he explained the difference in his schooling against the education he has received with us, in front of some outstanding innovators and a hall of 300 strong audience. Coming from a difficult family situation with an abusive and drunk father, living in a shelter home for the last 7 years and experiencing everything that he did in between, Neeraj has come a long way from rebelliousness, aggression, poor temperament to aspiring to become a photographer who could capture the beauty that the world has to offer. He is much troubled by the existing religious chaos in the community.
He dreams of a world free of such biases, where people are as treated as people and not for the caste, color or creed they belong to. One can see such values reflect in his sessions. He is someone whom we can say with confidence is destined for greatness as he continues on the path of self-development he has chosen for himself.

Kumari Archana

Age – 16

Chetna Manish Raj

District – Lucknow.

Her Story:

Now a member of the Red Brigade of Lucknow, Archana was born in a poor family that lives in the outskirts of. On 20th August 2015 a boy from her neighborhood attempted of rape Archana. She fought with spirit and tried to catch him but he escaped. She informed her parents of this incidence. Her mother, concerned of the family’s reputation, told her to keep silence on the matter and let it be, but the brave girl was not okay with justice being denied and decided to punish him for his crime. She alone reached out to the police and lodged a complaint after facing much difficulty. The convict was arrested and sent to jail. She was continuously being threatened by the members of boy’s family to settle the case, but Archana never feared them and on every day of the trial she went to the court alone. 10 months later the boy was released on bail, and since then Archana has vowed to get him the punishment he deserves. Through this she wants to convey the message that anyone who is guilty should be ready for the punishment.

Pragati Ojha

Age – 16

District – Lucknow.

Her Story:

Pragati is a stellar student of the 12th Standard. When she was in class VI, she started having major health issues. She kept on going to numbers of doctors but none of them were able to diagnose her problem. Her condition deteriorated to the extent that she became unable to come to school. She started developing lymph nodes all around her neck and slowly it covered her entire body. The situation was getting extremely tough for her, as her mother
was suffering from depression, while her father was struck by Paralysis a little while ago. The parents’ woes were even for Pragati and kept trying different treatments. One fine day her condition was extremely horrible that she was immediately taken to one of the hospital in Lucknow. The doctors told her parents that she will be alive for only few minutes now. It was such a devastating time for Pragati and her parents. She was then shifted to some other hospital where she was diagnosed with acute Lymphoma. Her parents immediately took her to Mumbai. She had to go through 20-25 sessions of chemotherapy. As her treatment was going on, she could not attend classes of class VI, VII and VIII but still seeing at her enthusiasm and courage, the school gave her a chance to study class IX. She managed to perform well in class IX and in the ICSE board exam, she scored 91.6%. As reported by her parents, during all her difficult times, she was the one who took care of her parent’s emotions and kept counseling them to be strong enough. Pragati is a rare and extraordinarily positive child despite all her odds. She didn’t let her situation hamper her studies and gave her 100% which made her to achieve a score of 91.6% in her board examination.

Sobi Banno

Age – 13

District – Sitapur

Her Story:

Sobi Baano is a diligent, shy yet determined girl who lives in the Ram Dwari Village in the Sitapur District of Uttar Pradesh. She belongs to a community where almost all the girls are married at the age of 13 years. Her family is completely orthodox and all her elder sisters were married at the age of 13 years while she is extremely talented in academics as well as extra-curricular activities like art and dance. When she turned 13, she was forced to get
married giving the societal norms as tradition, community and Word-of-God as excuses. Her father asked her not to pursue further academics as this will limit the chances of getting a groom for her.
Despite all the pressure, she did not bulge from her stand and continued her studies after grade 8 from a private school which is a whopping distance 6 kms from her village. She worked in the SHG (Self Help Group) Initiative of the Swatantra Talim society to earn money for buying a bicycle and enrolling herself in the school. Her parents were stubborn and did not provide any assistance but despite that she got admitted and this year she gave the grade 10 examinations becoming the first girl from the village to have written a grade 10 exam. She is a girl full of grit and determination and one day she will bring laurels for the village, town and for the entire country.

Akriti Katiyar

Age – 15

District – Lucknow.

Her Story:

“Problems never come alone, they come with happiness. Only the difference is that some people are able to identify where the happiness is hidden while others are not able to do so” This is how Akriti Katiyar, a 15 year old girl studying in class X at City Montessori School, Kanpur Road, describes the wisdom she gathered from her turmoil.
Akriti went through a tough time when she was diagnosed with a tumor, which made any kind of movement difficult and debilitating. She was bound to her wheelchair for a long period of time, to an extent that standing and walking was like a dream to her. She wasn’t able to make facial movement too , thus she was unable to express her feelings. But this situation did not make her feel depressed. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment made her able to walk and smile. Even though she had to go through physical and mental hardships, she says that the experience made her more mature, more positive and much awarded. She could not attend her school regularly due to her illness and the treatment. Thus, she missed her annual examination of class VIII. She was still promoted to class IX and to our surprise she performed well in her academics. In the annual examination of class IX, she secured 72.7%. Akriti is one of the most disciplined and modest student of our school. She somehow always carries a positive aura with a lovely smile. She is a source of inspiration for thousands of students studying in our institution and a peer they feel lucky to have.

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