Shyam Bihari Prasad
Meet ‘Uncle’ Shyam Bihari Prasad, a Retired Assistant General Manager from BSNL Patna who teaches kids on a pavement in Vasant Kunj, Delhi.It all started during the cold winter months of 2013 when he shifted to Vasant Kunj in New Delhi to live with his daughter.This elderly gentleman would visit the Hanuman temple near his home every morning, where he would often see several children standing outside, begging the devotees for prasad. One morning, ‘Uncle’ (as he is called by everyone), gave his share of prasad to a child. On another day, he bought biscuits from the shop near the temple gate for a few other children also.
“All these children have working parents who lock up their homes when they go to work. They have to leave their kids outside to fend for themselves. Classes in the local government school start only at 10 am, so these kids beg for food outside the temple before going to school,” says Prasad.
On interacting with the kids, Prasad learnt more about their school and different classes the children attended. He also asked them some basic questions and realized they had no grasp of simple concepts in science and maths, nor any knowledge of spelling and writing in English and Hindi. One morning, he asked some of the children if they would like to study. On receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, he promised to meet them on the pavement outside the temple the next day at 8 am.
“On rainy and cold days, when it is difficult to sit in the open, we move into the temple premises. Nothing stops Uncle from taking classes,” say Pavitra and Anjali, Class VI students at the local government school.
“These children did not know how to sit or talk properly earlier. They would use abusive language to communicate with each other. Today, they have changed and help each other with studies,” says a proud Prasad.
Shyam Bihari Prasad has turned the lives of many of these children around. They are doing well in their school exams and are spending happy and fruitful mornings instead of begging on the street.