15-year-old Armaan Singh is making waves by teaching the underprivileged children, says Hima Kota
He used to have numerous questions in his mind when he saw little poor children begging at the red light from the window of his car. As a toddler, he would seek answers to those questions from his parents.
At 12, Armaan Singh Ahluwalia decided to do something for them. He told his mother, Dr Tarvinder Kaur Ahluwalia, that he wanted to open a school for the poor children. Kaur gave in to his innocent demand, looking at her son’s enthusiasm and passion.
Now, at 15 Armaan, runs Apne, a four-room school, on one of the floors of his house in Noida, for underprivileged children. “It feels like I get a fresh breeze when I’m in the company of these children,” says the Class X student of the DPS RK Puram. He spends at least one hour daily with 15 to 20 students on a regular day. The number of students increases to 25 on weekends when Armaan spends five to six hours at the school.
“I want all these students to be well-educated and be all-rounders, so as to improve their quality of life,” Armaan tells you who also organises football matches, athletic training sessions and theatre rehearsals for them. Last year, he had organised a football tournament for them.
However, all this is tougher than it sounds. Though he has had to sacrifce on a lot of pleasure that children his age enjoy like play video games, or watch TV, he has no regrets. “I have sacrificed these pleasures because to be in the company of these kids given he a lot of satisfaction and happiness,” he says.
His mother helps him in the cause. In fact, after meeting these children and listening to their stories, she resigned from her job in a multinational company two years back and helps Armaan run the school
“I get so much satisfaction to see the smiles on the innocent faces who seemed to have lost faith in themselves, when they came first to the school. I feel Armaan is getting much better education by serving them and understanding their stories of struggle, hunger and pain. I am happy that he is learning the real meaning of being educated. I have no regrets in leaving my job and helping my son. It has given us so much happiness. We understand the purpose of our lives now. Perhaps the reason why Armaan is geting a good education and I left my job to serve these kids,” Kaur says.
Armaan and his mother just don’t teach these kids, they are provided with stationery, uniform and food free-of-cost to the students, besides academic and sports facilities.
Looking at the good work and son and mother are doing, the school has started getting support from other families, who donate stationery, books and uniforms, besides providing monetary assistance. Taking inspiration from Armaan, his friends too have started celebrating their birthdays and special occasions with these children.
Each child at Apne has a struggle to share. “Now instead of working on construction sites, I come to the Apne. I can speak basic English and feel confident. I am fortunate that I have been given an opportunity to study and instead of being a labourer, I now dream of being a police inspector when I will grow up,” 10-yea-old Lochan says.
Another student at Apne tells you how she loves going to Apne. “Studying and playing with other children makes me happy. I used to work as a maid in a house washing dishes. It gives a different feeling to come here. I am a different person now. When I grow up, I want to be a teacher,” Rakhi says.