Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir Dharavi, Mumbai, India

Dharavi is full of children. Many of them are child labourers. Art of Living volunteers soon discovered there was a need to educate the children and channel their creative energies. They began by running specially designed courses for children: ArtExcel or All Round Training in Excellence.

Whilst working with the children, it became apparent that their inability to speak English would hold them back in the future. Thus began our first informal English medium school, run out of two rooms, each divided in half by an opaque curtain to accommodate simultaneous classes for different age groups.

“The students actually reach there earlier than us, in their uniforms, and the excited looks on their faces when they see us is so heart warming”.

-- Sreedhara Dudhane, Volunteer and Housewife
The response from parents was overwhelming: 170 applications for just 40 spots! Their enthusiasm spurred on the volunteers who began teaching morning and afternoon shifts.

The year passed quickly and the lease on the rooms was renewed. It became apparent to Carl, Zubin and Kedar that the school was here to stay…and grow! Two rooms alone would not be sufficient.

Available land is an extremely tough find in Dharavi. After many months of scrutiny and negotiations, the team identified potential sheds that could be converted to class rooms. They were at a considerable distance from the existing school, but held a much stronger potential for long term growth. Thus began a fund raising campaign with a more definitive vision for the future of Dharavi’s children.
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