A grocery store owner has been providing free education for slum children under a bridge in India for the past seven years.
Rajesh Sharma, 45, noticed the hardship faced by children living in the slum area of New Delhi and was was driven to do something after he himself was forced to drop out of college for financial reasons.
Sharma runs lessons from 9am until 2pm every day for nearly 200 underprivileged children. Subjects covered include English, Hindi, science, mathematics, history, and geography.
There’s no seats and no tables. There is only one wall, which is concrete and part of the bridge itself.
“I was strolling by and saw children of labourers playing in the dust and mud when this metro bridge was under construction,” Sharma said, “I spoke with the parents and asked, ‘Why don’t you send them to school?’ They said, ‘We want them to be educated but we can’t afford their education and the school is too far.'”
With no government funding, the “school” is reliant entirely on public support and donations. People donate books, uniforms, shoes, and food on a regular basis.
On Saturdays the students play cricket, football, badminton, and other games with donated sports equipment.
“I love this school,” says 15-year-old student Pappu. “I come here for studies and to draw.”
He walks 2km every day to reach the school.
For Sharma, his day does not end after his lessons. The grocery store owner often goes straight to his shop where he works until 10pm.