Empowering youngsters through literacy and vocational training is the message of Samaritan Help Mission
Sometime in 1999, Mamoon Akhtar was moved by the overarching desire of a little child from the Tikiapara slum of Kolkata to get basic education. The child’s mother was being forced into anti-social work by the slum’s drug mafia. So Mamoon ended up rescuing her too. He started teaching the boy at his own house in the evening. Soon, another group of children followed and wanted to be taught. This inspired Mamoon to start a school in his own 600-sq ft house.
Over time, this developed into an organisation that received financial support from a group of good Samaritans in Mumbai (now formally called Caring Friends) and the Samaritan Help Mission (SHM) was formed. Caring Friends persuaded many others to support SHM. Thanks to the steady stream of funding, SHM scaled up its humanitarian work since 2004 and ventured into several spheres.
But, at its core, SHM works at uplifting children from the poorest sections of society.
These usually belong to families of daily wage labourers, rickshaw-pullers, drug addicts, housemaids and also children of convicts who are in jail, or from similar humble backgrounds. The Samaritan Mission School established in Tikiapara slum of Howrah provides them access to quality education in English medium. Apart from basic education, SHM also offers vocational training to poor girls and widows and helps them become financially independent through self-help groups. It also runs computer literacy programmes for children. In addition, it has begun to provide medical health facilities to its core group.
SHM was registered as a society in 2001. The Samaritan Mission School was started on 26 May 2007. The children get access high-quality education in English through regular schooling. At present, the School has over 880 boys and girls. A recent development, which makes them proud, is the addition of a school library on 3rd September which was inaugurated by the Howrah police commissioner.
SHM’s vocational training project supports 200 women. Fifty girls work regularly in a manufacturing unit where each girl earns between Rs2,500 to Rs3,000 per month. Seventy-five girls have been trained and they have started their work units at their own home.
Another important initiative is the Samaritan Micro-Credit Programme which was started in October 2008.
Till date, 124 women have been provided loans ranging from Rs1,000 to Rs5,000 to start their own small business. This is forward integration of activities—women who have already taken vocational training at an SHM programme are provided a loan to start their own business and put their learning into action. “We are proud of having zero defaulters,” says Mamoon.
The NGO has had the support of Sachin Tendulkar too. On 19 May 2011, Mid-Day published an article on Samaritan Help Mission under the title “Sunshine over Howrah Bridge” and Sachin Tendulkar signed five cricket bats which were auctioned to raise funds for the organisation.
SHM is one of the few NGOs that use social media and digital technology with great success. It made news in 2012 for using Google Hangout—a group video chat feature—to teach English to 80 underprivileged children. SHM’s founders are active on Twitter, which is how Moneylife came to know about their work.
That is not all; Times Now quoted Mikael Kjellstrom as saying, “Beyond education, the School’s most outstanding achievement remains is developing compassion for fellow human beings and love for their motherland among school children.”
Donations to SHM are entitled to tax benefits under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act.
Samaritan Help Mission
127 Noor MD Munshi Lane, Howrah-711101, West Bengal
Mobile: 9836777600 / 9331873584
Email: [email protected]
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