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A lady finds her calling with kids

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

A friend introduced us to the very interesting Beenaa Advani, who is attempting to create opportunities for children in the city through education. Beenaa began the Angel Xpress Foundation in 2012  to teach English to slum children and to a young underprivileged lot without exposure to the language. Today, she and her business associate Anubha Sharma run 11 centres along promenades, at schools and in municipal gardens (with the permission of the BMC, we might add), across the city. A venture that started out coaching just 18 children six years ago now tutors 1,500 children between the ages of 6-14 years. Why English? “Because it is a language that is the currency in most big cities. Since most colleges in our city are in the medium of English, children who are not equipped to read and write the language often find it nearly impossible to continue with their higher studies. So, we give them a grounding in English and Maths,” says Beenaa. Her outfit together with its corporate sponsors often organises visits to company offices as well, which forms a part of a government directive on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). When Beenaa started out, her company had practically no infrastructure or manpower to speak of. She, her partner and volunteers gathered together the slum kids near filmstar Shah Rukh Khan’s house in Bandstand, cleaned up a space on the road, painted the wall around it and began to distribute fruit among the little ones. “Initially we would incentivise them to have a bath every day and stay clean by giving a fruit to only those children who did so. We were extremely heartened to see so many kids subsequently taking a bath, even if it just meant a dip in the nearby sea, in order to procure a banana. That was the start of our mission,” says the lady, a former pre-school franchisee, who says she’s finding immense satisfaction in the appreciation she gets from the little ones.

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