After visiting DTE, I wanted to learn more and if possible introduce resources to the organization. I met up with Dev, one of the Founders of the organization in a coffee shop. He began by sharing that DTE started as a way to create something in the community that was accessible and give opportunity to maximize learning. For many parents, the idea of taking girls out of the community to teach is not fathomable. Therefore, DTE created five centers across Cuffe Parade and another in lower parel Mumbai that was accessible to the students and would be ok for parents to send their kids.
He went on to mention that these centers run weekdays, morning and evenings and are run largely by three teachers. The center I visited is a morning center, but in that same place in the evening is another batch.
Most of the staff (some of which are volunteers) have an education background. He is glad to say the lives of the kids they started with are definitely better now. He humbly mentions that it is largely due to their own efforts. He feels that DTE played a role as a catalyst and change is evident in their education, families and communities.
Dev gave a few examples of kids that DTE has worked with.
Akash- His father worked as a daily wager on a boat, while his mother has worked odd jobs including sweeping the floor of a bank. He is one of the oldest students that stayed in school and stuck with the after school program. Today he has started his second year in Commerce (14 standard) and is doing his national cadet in Navy. If he finishes here in three years then he will get into the Navy. This is his aspiration and what Dev calls a “game changer”. Dev mentioned how his “relationship with the sea is going to change. The father went to sea to fish, but his son will go into the sea on a ship in the Indian Army or Merchant Navy. It is the same source of employment, which is the sea, but the transaction across generation is definitely potential for an amazing story. “
Jyoti- Second example is Jyoti, she is one of the brightest kids. There have been years that they sat with the parents for hours to ward off attempts to get her married. “Jyoti’s cousin also started at the same time as her. Today that girl is married with two daughters. Jyoti however, is studying commerce at one of the best colleges in Mumbai and this is purely based on her merit.” He mentioned that Jyoti knew she wanted to be a teacher. Last year DTE was able to get her an internship at the Bombay International School. This year the school wanted to invite her again for an internship. Generally you are only welcomed back if you do well. “How amazing for a girl who could at a young age have been married with two kids to be in one of the best colleges in south Bombay, and is on her way to become a teacher. She also has now got a job with a nonprofit, which gives her the strength to tell her parents, listen I can pay off my own academic tuition fees.” He mentions that four teachers have been instrumental in this catalyzing role.
Dev mentions that they do a lot of programs, including life skills. They also have sports, which is largely now Ultimate Frisbee. Dev is a true fan of this sport. He mentions that this is a gender neutral sport, it is also a sport about conflict solution.
We have been playing for two years now and I told the kids there is a tournament we will go to if we make the cut. They team unanimously selected Khatija as their captain. She comes from a strict family, so attendance can be tough based on what is happening at home. Her dream is to start her own travel company. She has done two internships with travel companies. Both came back with flying colors.
I enjoyed my experience with DTE. It is an incredible organization and we look forward to brainstorming ways we can help! Please contact me if you would like to help support them in any way. RHope’s focus is on livelihood programs which help future generations in under-resourced communities receive education and access to opportunities.