Updated: Oct 21, 2020
I joined this movement in 2014 by accident, and the sweetest accident it has been. From the immersion during the fellowship to the partnering with Entrepreneurs in education across India, it has been a journey of learning and love. Here are a few glimpses of that journey.
A safe haven in Kalimpong:
It all began here at Dr. Graham’s Homes School, Kalimpong – An understanding of what children need. Dr. Graham loved children and founded These Homes in 1900. I spent thirteen of my formative years in this boarding school – a space where the mind was nurtured through nature, living with diverse peers and excellent teachers who cared!
Creating a safe space for children:
In 2014, I joined the Teach For India Fellowship. Amongst the many lessons I carry with me from that exhausting, heart wrenching, tiring, satisfying and transformative work, I walked away understanding what I consider the most important of lessons – what children need first and foremost is a safe space where they are free to be and happy to belong.
During my years as a Program Manager (2016-2018) I concluded that adults learn best through life experiences. As a Manager, I was both participant and witness to the incredibly challenging and transformative experiences of Teach For India Fellows as they taught their way through the ground realities of under resourced schools and communities.
Exploring education beyond Delhi:
By 2018 I was ready – to go beyond the urban slums of Delhi and dive deeper into the varied realities of India. I joined The TFIx Team to coach entrepreneurs who aimed to launch teaching fellowships after a year of incubation. Led by Rajshree Doshi, the team provided a space of inquiry and support to develop regional leaders working for the needs of children across the length and breadth of our country.
Vardishnu is largely working with children from the rag-picking community in providing a safe learning space for them. Children are first inducted into ‘Anandghars’ (Happy Homes) with the aim of school enrolment and excellence in school outcomes.
The more I travelled to the difficult realities of our Entrepreneurs and their children I humbly realised that I had so much more to learn in order to create sustainable impact. Armed with the best practices in learning and teaching, my experience as a teacher and as a coach for a teacher, I still had only a few answers to the challenges I witnessed.
By 2018, I witnessed this growing leadership in Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana. Everyone was different and from different background and regional histories, had different stories of oppression and privilege, were involved in different areas of work, but came together with the same passion, commitment and love for children and their justice through education.
Travelling through the country in the last three years I have realised that the needs of the children in different parts of the country are different. They depend on the challenging contexts of their regions, their history and their adversities. And as their needs differ, they remain the same in the fact that all children need some universal basic things – a safe space, people who believe in them and access to resources that help them learn.
At TFIx, I am the link between our children and the grass root leaders who work with them. I am that link to helps the Entrepreneurs design rigorous fellowships, hold their hands on their leadership journeys and to enable them to reach out within and outside in the ecosystem to resources, opportunities and innovation that will catalyse the movement for equity in education.
About The Writer
Prior to to working with TFIx, Ishita worked directly with Fellows and School Principals as a Program Manager with TFI Delhi for 3 years. She has also played a role of teacher trainer with Teach For Bangladesh and Manipur Government. In TFIx, she works closely with 4 entrepreneurs from Delhi, Uttarakhand and Odisha. She is an explorer by nature and loves to travel and swim.