Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
“Each one teach one” is an African American proverb. When an enslaved person was taught to read, it was his duty to teach some one else. This slogan is a motivation for the educated class to understand their moral and social responsibility of teaching at least one illiterate person.
I remember when I was in class 9th, we were told by our teacher to teach at least one illiterate person in our neighbourhood during the summer vacations under the programme ‘Each One Teach One’. At that time, every student was given a literacy kit which included three books, a set of stationary and a progress report card.
I gave the kit to our maid’s son, who was a school dropout and told him to fill it and give it back to me. I did not understand the true meaning of it at that time. The slogan somehow kept ringing in my ears. Yesterday, I learnt it's true meaning.
A few days back, we had gone to the market for shopping. After making all the purchases, we went to a nearby food joints to get kathi rolls. As we were waiting outside the food joint, I noticed a beggar girl around 18 years of age, carrying a small baby, of about one year.
At first, she stood near a boy, who was sitting on a scooter, and started begging. The boy kept refusing but after being pestered a lot by her, he gave her 10₹. After that she, went towards two girls, who were enjoying a packet of french fries. They gave her half of the packet. She took it to a corner and started eating them.
The sight of the baby being carried around mercilessly by the beggar woman did not let my eyes off them. I kept watching them. I kept thinking about the baby. She was carrying him just to gain sympathy from people. Even if I gave her some money, it would not benefit that baby.
Suddenly, a thought came across my mind. I went to the girl and asked her how much money she collects after begging all day along these polluted roads. She replied by saying 100₹. Then, I felt a little encouraged and told her that if she starts working as a house help, she can earn much more and also take good care of the baby.
She asked me who would give her work and who would look after her baby? I told her that by working as a house help she can earn around 5,000₹ a month and there are “anganwadis” which would charge her 500- 1000₹ for keeping her child for 7-8 hours. She could thus earn and live better. These days, maids are in great demand and since they keep throwing tantrums, there will be many who would employ her.
After a few days, while passing through the same road, I looked a around for that girl. I could not see her, so I thought she must be begging somewhere else. While coming back home, I saw her coming out of a “Sindhu Samaj Anganwadi” .
The child was not with her and she was looking much better. She did not seem to be begging anymore. I could imagine that she had understood what I told her. Thus, I understood the real meaning of “each one teach one”. Though, I could not literate her but I taught her to live a better way of life.