Muslim’s Digest Exclusive
When a few young men in Delhi, the capital city of India, discussed ways for a permanent transformation of slum-dwellers, their thoughts concurred on one solution – empowering the future generation through education. Little did they know that this thought would grow into a significant endeavor, giving new direction to a whole generation of children and their families.
Today, Daarul Akram Street School started by this young team has 70 kids studying in three different classes. These are poor children whose parents do menial jobs earning measly daily wages, denying them the privilege of a regular school education. Many of them are orphaned. They reside in ghettos and are unaware of even the basic comforts of life, struggling to manage the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. Most of them have the added responsibility of supplementing their family incomes by working as garbage collectors during the daytime. In spite of all these, they are learning to read, write, learn, question, dream and succeed.
Muslim’s Digest conducted an email interview with one of the founders of Daarul Akram Street School, Mr. Muhammad Mujahid. He shared with us the origins, ideals, vision and the practical challenges of running the school, in detail.
How it all began
The seeds of Daarul Arkam Street School were sown by a team of five youngsters, Aareez Ali, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Mujahid, Junaid and Anwar who used to actively serve the underprivileged people in the neighborhood. One such initiative they had undertaken was the task of distributing monthly ration to widows and orphans living in the slums. Constant interactions with the slum-dwellers brought them to the conclusion that lack of education among the younger generation was at the root of the continuing backwardness of these people.
“Upon investigation and discussions amongst ourselves and the families involved, we felt it was necessary to address this issue. And so, in July 2017 the Daarul Arkam Street School was initiated for the sole purpose of providing free education to the children of the slum dweller families,” Muhammad recalls.
Even though they launched the initiative, it was soon interrupted by a bigger mission. The devastating floods that hit the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh called for a larger commitment from these youngsters who rushed to serve the flood victims in three of the worst-hit districts, 1400kms away from their hometown.
“We had no other option but to temporarily abandon this initiative to focus on distributing aid to the flood victims. As this was a fairly extensive task, we decided to postpone the Street School by a few months. It wasn’t until we had completed the flood relief work in December 2017 that we were able to re-initiate the Street School,” says Muhammad. However, they were soon confronted with another problem – lack of funds. Once again, the initiative had to be briefly postponed. Finally they found a voluntary financer, a recent revert to Islam, who revived their spirits and the Street School with a significant financial contribution. Daarul Arkam Street School became a reality on 1st April 2018. Their opening batch had 17 children.
Transforming young minds
“These children spent their days collecting and segregating garbage with no real hopes of a future, not to mention their abject poverty. Our focus was on empowering them with tools and resources by providing them the knowledge, education and life skills that would enable them to carve out a successful career for themselves. Furthermore, we were confident that education would give them hopes for their own future and aspirations to envision and achieve,” Muhammad explained, adding, “When the first batch of kids joined the school, they were found to have absolutely no knowledge about Allah and Islam.”
The school teaches them English, Hindi and Arabic as languages, in addition to Islamic studies and the regular school curriculum. “We haven’t separated Deen and Dunya for them. We provide both side-by-side,” says Muhammad. Students also get to develop their intellectual and social abilities through interactions, learning discipline, manners, etiquette etc. By interacting with the teachers and other children, they develop cognitively, psychologically and mentally and become more confident and understanding of one another. They are encouraged to think for themselves and advance in all aspects of life.
One of the commendable efforts of Daarul Arkam is the importance it places on inspiring the students to dream big. “We speak to the students about many successful people. We inspire them using positive role models and teach them to think big and live big. We even show them videos of great personalities and how they achieved things in their life. But first, we teach them about the importance of having a good character and being humble, compassionate, and helpful to others. We want them to uphold good moral values and show respect, humility and sincerity. By teaching them these values, we instill in them the importance of becoming a valued member of society. We also read out to them stories of the Prophets (Peace be Upon Them) and the Companions (May Allah be Pleased with Them), to encourage and motivate the kids,” Muhammad explains.
An important achievement of Daarul Arkam is that they are succeeding in changing the mindsets of parents regarding the girl child. “We currently have 30 girls studying in our school. We strongly believe that educating a woman means educating a generation. We meet parents face to face and counsel them to address this issue. Alhamdhulillah, many are coming forward now. We need to strive to correct the misconceptions within our society by following Islam as it should be,” Muhammad stressed.
The Street School isn’t restricted to just teaching the children – the parents are taught too. Plans are afoot to organize classes for parents during the weekends, to teach them the basics of Islam and matters of social importance such as the importance of cleanliness and hygiene, their rights, how to live cordially amongst other communities, etc.
The Way Ahead
Though the team behind Daarul Arkam did approach a few schools for assistance in setting up a syllabus, none showed any interest. Eventually, they took it upon themselves and with the aid of regular school books and teaching materials, created their our own syllabus. A madrasah has now come forward offering help in setting up a syllabus.
“We currently have 70 kids that study in three separate classes. We hold these classes in a small local facility but due to size restrictions we are unable to accept any more admissions. We have been invited by a few slums to run our school in other locations in and around Delhi and pray to Allah that we get adequate funds to start these projects soon In Sha Allah,” Muhammad said.
“Our resources are extremely limited. We have the most basic necessities such as fans, lights, tables, boards and a toilet. Surprisingly, we only have one donor for this school so far and she is a teacher herself; not a business woman or from a wealthy, privileged background. This sole donor provides us with funds, the rest we manage from amongst ourselves. She has given us the hope and inspiration to start this work and with her support we will continue to the best of our abilities, In Sha Allah. However, we are in need of more donors,” he says.
All the founders have their own full-time jobs/business, but devote almost all their spare time for humanitarian initiatives. “As a group we work collectively for the sake of Allah and do not seek any reward, recognition or recompense from people. Our plan is to start this as a regular school. Once we can manage adequate funding for this, we will do so In Sha Allah. At the moment we are focusing on our school as we have started it with our aim being to keep it running successfully,” says Muhammad.
Daarul Arkam, the street school.Education is the fundamental right and should be provided like air and water – The Green TreeWe finally opened Daarul Arkam, an educational Shelter ; the first of its kind to teach Quran, Arabic , English and other subjects to the slum kids who live near Yamuna River. Their parent's main occupation is mainly to collect garbage or to work as a maid. Many of those who know 'The Green Tree' , knows that we distribute a month's ration to families live therein, every month.Now, we have taken initiative to teach the 'Deen and Dunya' to the under privileged for free.We have right now have more than 70 kids and we teach them in three batches.Rent for three month:18,000 INRTeacher's fee(3 months): 15,000 INRCenter setup(including books, racks, water cooler, lights, fan ): 20,000 INRReserves: 2,000 INRTOTAL: 55,000 INR.Donate generously:Bank Name: ICICI BankAccount Name – The Green Tree Account Number – 113405001017IFSC code – ICIC0001134 Branch Name – Jasola Vihar, New DelhiMail Id: email@example.comContact: +918800187493www.thegreentree.club/streetschoolwww.fb.com/streetschooldelhiJazakAllah Hu khayir.#streetschooldelhi#streetschool#daarularkam#thegreentree#lifetothelifeless
Publiée par Daarul Arkam – the street school sur Mercredi 11 avril 2018
The promoters of Daarul Arkam Street School can be contacted through their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/streetschooldelhi/