(November 12, 2021) Jayanti Patel and his wife Aruna Patel have dedicated themselves to changing the lives of underprivileged children by providing them education. So far, the couple, who retired 15 years ago, has educated 497 street kids in Gujarat’s Mehsana district.
“I have been contributing to the social sector ever since I started working. When my wife and I lived in Palampur, we used to often meet Pandurang Shastri Athavale, a social reformer who emphasised on people’s welfare. His work inspired us, so after retirement, we moved to Mehsana and started an initiative to eliminate child begging. We had the time and resources,” said Jayanti.
Patel, who started an education initiative Mukht Shikshit Samaj Abhiyan in Nugar village for child beggars, knew that empowering them with knowledge was the only way out of the poverty cycle.
Apart from enrolling the children in the government schools, the couple also provides for stationery, uniform, food and shelter. It’s the makeshift tents on government lands that work as the perfect shelter for the kids instead of living on footpath. In the last many years, these students have found jobs as cooks, plumbers and drivers.
“It is not possible for us to sponsor their education beyond class 10 as we want to focus only on the young minds that are critical to shape early on. But the good thing is that the ones who are earning now often come back and teach existing students,” added Jayanti.
The couple spends ₹20 lakh every year on the children, most of which comes through donations and CSR activities.
Jayanti Patel, who worked in various sectors after studying B.Com followed by LLB, realised this was his calling after he worked at a pharma company. It was here that he researched on healthy lifestyle and realised the poor cannot afford nutrition. That’s when he started working with children, and soon started educating them.