Posted by: greatfoundation | January 22, 2010

Pehel: Our volunteer intiative evolves


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

We a group of three friends (Me-Jaslene, Bhavya and Arthur) began the Pehel initiative in 2008. We were inspired to start this as we were fresh out of college and thereafter didn’t have access to the NSS group (where we used to visit aged people and enact plays, sing songs, donate goodies or food items). With college getting over our social contribution came to a standstill and we continued with further education. But after our education was complete and we were about to get employed at varied levels, the three of us casually met over a cup of coffee to celebrate our newly acquired jobs.

When we met nostalgia gripped us and we started remembering college days and discussing about the visits to the old age home and all the activities we used to conduct. Suddenly all three of us in unison blurted out “Why don’t we begin with something like that, teaching underprivileged children at a school or even our servant lady’s kids…to this I added I know of an NGO – GREAT Foundation, that works with underprivileged children…but don’t know if they have some volunteer thing in place…As I personally knew the person in charge at GREAT Foundation, I told the rest of the gang lets materialize something….

Hence began our voyage to set up Pehel: The volunteer initiative to teach children belonging to the under privileged background under GREAT Foundation’s wing.

In early Jan 2008, we assembled a few committed friends to join this initiative.

Nina- English Counselor at Career Forum with experience in teaching

Sunil – Administrator at Career Forum who had prior experience in teaching

Arthur- MBA from SIMS

Dilraj – Recruiter at Voices BPO

Bhavya – Software Engineer at IBM

Before we began our classes, the six of us chalked out a syllabus for these children as they lacked Basic English skills. We set lectures for the first six sessions keeping them as interactive as possible. The lectures were for 45 mins with first 10 mins as warm up games and the latter 35 mins comprising of basic English grammar.

When we began teaching these children, we posed two problems. Firstly, the state of these kids was bad; they did not know English forget speaking the language. Secondly, it appeared that they disliked it and did not want learn speaking the language and behaved unruly.  In order to get the children involved we used to keep one-hour sessions, which were segregated into interactive games and concept teaching.

This helped us maintain a steady flow of the classes and keep the student attention in place. We used to prepare well in advance before we took a session. The first few months we faltered and stumbled but eventually with the help of Dr Kirpal – President at GREAT Foundation and Nina –an English counselor at Career Forum cum volunteer we were able to set up a concrete course of action for the children.

We regularly took English classes on Saturday and ensured that continuity was maintained. This benefitted students to a great extent and eventually this activity picked up steam and as of date we are 20-21 volunteers in Jan 2010. Originally, we began with classes in only one school Mahadji Shinde High School, but now we have extended the Pehel initiative across the three GREAT Foundation adopted schools:

1.      Mahadji Shinde High School, Pune

2.      Dr.Ambedkar Shinde High School, Pune

3.      Ghorpade High School, Pune

From 120 students we have ramped up our operations to cover twelve classes (720 children) across the three schools. Around 20 volunteers teach English, Maths and Personality development to these children on Saturdays. The volunteers range from working professionals to homemakers to students.

Volunteers dedicate two hours on a Saturday and help teach these children. It has been a great experience for all those who have been a part of the Pehel initiative. A few of them have stated

Teaching these children is a wonderful experience. The zeal and enthusiasm that the children have, is really admirable. They come with an open mind which helps them learn and adapt to new things very quickly. Initially there was lot of fear and resistance in them when they were told to speak in front of the class. But as the classes progressed they learnt lot of things and were confident enough to speak up in front of anyone. There are lots of games that are part of the teaching activity which make learning more fun. Initially controlling these children was a challenging task. It gradually became easier after achieving a certain level of comfort. Overall the experience is lot of fun with lot of learning. – Dhwni Patel, a dynamic software professional at Tata Technologies Ltd

It is a different and wonderful experience. I say different because sometimes we have to start from the scratch as most of the students have less knowledge in Basic English.  However their interest in learning surpasses everything and never makes me feel I am doing a tedious task – Binsy Pillai, senior software engineer at Honeywell Automation India Ltd

On an ending note, we have plans to cover the six schools approximately in the coming 5 years. So come join us in the Pehel initiative… Walk a mile with a school child.



  1. Pehel is doing a really wonderful work & i am glad to be a part of this NGO. School children really need some encouragement to study at this age & which Pehel is helping them get it. I feel myself, encouraged when i teach maths to these children, their enthusiasm to learn & their responses make me teach them something new everytime i go there. Their interest to learn something new,makes learning full of fun. Its a wonderful Experience & thanks Pehel for giving me this opportunity.

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