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Grit – The real Key to Success

 In COVID-19, Education

Meet the multi-talented Akshata Gawde, a 28 year old preschool teacher with Mumbai Smiles Foundation, a music enthusiast, a kabaddi (national sport of India) referee and a member of the Maharashtra Home Guard cadre. We had the opportunity to speak with her on the occasion of her receiving the CORONO WARRIOR recognition by Apna Foundation.

Ever since Akshata enrolled for the NSS (National Social Scheme) as a college student, she was determined to be of service for her country in some way. After completing her graduation, she joined Mumbai Smiles Foundation as a volunteer, participating in the M-Mitra project and was responsible for collecting information of parturient women from her area. She helped in consolidating the data and also in managing databases for our projects ensuring they were always updated.

Three years into her role, she stumbled on an opportunity of a preschool assistant position in one of our preschools catering to street children. With her quick learning and enthusiastic approach she managed to clear all the interviews and joined in as a teacher with our Ccheda Nagar preschool.

Akshata lives in a chawl system with her family in 10×10 Sq.Ft. room. They are a low-income family surviving off the earnings of her father who works as a watchman. Although being in desperate need of money, Akshata had bigger dreams to follow and wanted to work for a meaningful cause and not just for money. She was eager to learn new skills apart from her routine job and was pursuing her interests in music and Kabbadi. Her desire to learn led her to explore a totally different opportunity with the Maharashtra Home Guard cadre, a path that would help her achieve her dream of working for a cause and being of service to her nation. Akshata also expressed her gratitude towards Mumbai Smiles Foundation for offering her the required flexibility on job to perform her role as a Home Guard outside the organisation.

Home Guard is a reserve force supporting the community in times of emergency such as an air-raid, fire, cyclone, earthquake or a pandemic outbreak. The force ensures maintenance of essential services, assists the administration in protecting weaker sections while maintaining communal harmony, participates in socio-economic and welfare activities and also acts as an auxiliary force to the state police force.

During the on-going Covid-19 outbreak, the Home Guard played a vital role in supporting the community. With more than fifty people quarantined in the area where Akshata lived, there were heavy restrictions imposed as a result of which Akshata was not able to contribute fully towards her duty as a Home Guard and that is her biggest regret.

When asked about her inspiration to join the force, Akshata said she has been watching her father and her brother, who work as watch man and a rickshaw driver respectively, go out of their way to help out people in this pandemic and they both have been her biggest source of inspiration and motivation.

When asked how she found her role in the Home Guards, Akshata said she was glad she could help people in need and thus contribute in some way towards her nation. As a message to the people in the current pandemic, Akshata also said that people should respect those who are risking their lives for them and support them by following basic rules such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance guidelines.

We are proud of our Mumbai Smiles family members. Kudos to Akshata!

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