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Integrating effort: How our value-based education model has helped students from across India

This month, we present to you a story of a student beneficiary who has benefited from our value-based education model in central as well as south India.

Indore to Manjakkudi. A distance of 1,875 kms. In June 2015, a young boy from Indore, Madhya Pradesh landed in Manjakkudi (the birthplace of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati), Tamil Nadu at midnight to pursue his dreams.

The long journey had made him weary and his introduction to south India began with the ubiquitous ‘thayir sadam.’ (curd rice). “’ I polished off the entire plate,” remembers Vikram Kushwah who is now back in Madhya Pradesh working in the back office division of Sundaram Finance in Shujalpur district.

Vikram got introduced to the AIM for Seva network through his uncle who was close to Swami Aishvaryananda Saraswati ji, the coordinator of our hostels in Madhya Pradesh. He joined the Bapu-Buddh AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Indore, Madhya Pradesh in 2006 when he was in class 6 and 12 years old.

Vikram first stayed at the Indore Chatralayam (2006-2009) and then moved to the Smt.Jamunabai Chanchlani AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh (2009-2012).

A native of Panegaon village, Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh, Vikram’s family is into farming. “There was not much importance given to education in our village and my family’s economic condition was also not that great,” he recollects.

But Vikram managed to metamorphose thanks to the Chatralayam intervention which occurred during a crucial phase in his life (pre teens and teens).

“My biggest learningfrom being part of this network is that I have imbibed a lot of values and ‘samskaras’ and it starts from the simplest of the things like saying a small prayer before the start of a meal. In all, I learnt the do’s and don’t’s in life.”

After completing his class XII, Vikram joined a local engineering college in Madhya Pradesh to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. “But I found it difficult as I had studied in a Hindi medium school and in college, the medium of instruction was English. I decided to take a gap.”

During his gap years, (2013-15), Vikram continued his association with AIM for Seva by teaching our Indore Chatralayam students studying in classes 6 to 8.

During that period, the coordinator of our Chatralayams in Madhya Pradesh, Swami Aishvaryananda Saraswati ji motivated him to go to college. “He told me to enroll in the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi. Being Pujya Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati’s birthplace, Swami Aishwaryananda Saraswati ji felt a change of place would lead to a makeover in me and he was right. I feel very blessed having studied in Manjakkudi.”

The move from central to south India also provided the young Vikram valuable exposure and helped him understand and appreciate the finer nuances of a different culture. ‘I was fortunate that I lived and studied in a historical place during the most crucial phase of my life. I come from a village in Madhya Pradesh and I got an opportunity to study in another village down south. I visited temples in Tiruvarur and Thanjavur and saw classical dances like Bharatanataym in our college programmes. I observed that village life in south India was quite different when compared to a village in Madhya Pradesh where I grew up. During my stay in Manjakkudi, I imbibed and internalized a lot of our traditions and culture.”

In December 2017, Vikram bagged a job with Sundaram Finance during campus placement. The job training happened in Bhopal in July 2018. After that, Vikram started working in the back office division of the company in Shujalpur, Madhya Pradesh from July 1st.

Vikram is thankful that he got both a north and south Indian exposure from AIM for Seva during his teen and youth. “.If I had continued to live in my village, I would have not got all the exposure that I have gained now.”

Vikram hopes of setting up an English medium school in his village one day. This is his vision of giving back to his roots–providing access to education to all children in his village.

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