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Meet Sachin, Program Manager of Education

 In Awareness, COVID-19, Education

Hello all! Today let’s meet one of our team members, Sachin Bhagat, who is a Program Manager of the department of Education at Mumbai Smiles Foundation. Let’s get to know Sachin better and understand his work and contributions towards the organisation.

 

We thank Sachin for his efforts and for sharing his experience, which throws light on the situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic and how it is affecting our beneficiaries and the wider community.

How did you come across Mumbai Smiles and decide to become part of the organization?

After completing my Masters in Social Work, I started my first assignment to conduct baseline research and survey for Mumbai Smiles Foundation and after 5 years later I went through a series of interviews with Mumbai Smiles Foundation and joined the team as a Program Officer in the year 2015.

Working with Mumbai Smiles has offered me lots of opportunities to learn, experiment new strategies, and develop new projects through lots of good and bad experiences. This eventually helped me to develop myself as a professional team leader as well as a person who is working at a grass root level with very genuine people from across the communities. This would not have been possible without the great leadership of our General Director, Jaume Sanllorente and a very cooperative team & a supportive project staff.

Sachin with Susanna Carpintero, spanish photographer volunteering in Mumbai.

Currently, I am working as a Project Manager under the Education Unit and responsible for “Smiling Bus Project”, “Access to Education Project” and “Life Skill Empowerment Activity” and also overseeing the “Smiling School” activity. These projects are targeted towards the Street Children and their families as well as Victims of Human Trafficking and their families.

How is Covid-19 pandemic affecting the community?

COVID19 pandemic is a very unfortunate incident in our life, which is affecting our whole lifestyle and it is going to have very serious and long-term implications on humans across the globe.

The people most impacted by the pandemic are the marginalized and underprivileged group across Mumbai city. They have suffered a lot as compared to any other groups in the city. They are the ones who lost their jobs and daily earning from day one of the lockdown. They are the one who have been humiliated most by the police, health system, local political leaders and the general public. They tried leaving the city and reaching their villages but due to the lack of money and the restrictions applied by the government, they ended up stranded, fighting for survival against hunger and uncertainty.

In addition to this police started humiliating them by beating them and forcing them to vacate the streets and move to the camps prepared by the state government for the migrant people. However, for these people abandoning their shanties on the streets meant forfeiting them permanently leaving it up for grabs for some other needy. This was not that easy for them. When they learned that the government authorities are demolishing their street homes they again gathered to claim their right.

How will this current situation affect the future of most children we work with and how is Mumbai Smiles contributing to the current situation?

In the future, the most vulnerable group is going to be the people living on the streets and their children. They will prefer sending their children to their villages which will impact the education and the health of these children. Those who don’t have anything in the village will have to return to the city forcing their children to work or beg with them. They will be prone to criminal activities and drug addiction.

In the Mumbai Smiles project areas we will face more school dropout cases as children will have to go back to help their parents. Therefore, though the problems are old now we would have to address them in a different manner.

We at Mumbai Smiles Foundation are conducting Emergency Aid in the project areas. We are distributing food grains, sanitizers and educational aid to all our beneficiaries. We are also conducting educational and mental health support sessions through telephonic conversations. Our team is in regular contact with all our beneficiaries.

 

A message by Sachin:

Currently, we are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with all our might and strength. The result of the fight is going to make a lot of changes in our life style, while also impacting our social, cultural, traditional and economic status, but as Charlie Chaplin once said, “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world- not even our troubles”, these hard times will also pass and there will be a new ray of light in our lives. We have to stay positive and happy through these testing times.

Sachin, sitting in the middle, is team manager at the Smiling Bus project.

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