Self-reliance and education: Couple runs ‘Majha Ghar’ ashram for underprivileged children in Latur district – Times of India | IIT EXPERT

LATUR: A couple in Maharashtra’s Latur district has established a home for underprivileged children, educating and empowering them to become self-sufficient. They now have 51 children, both boys and girls. Sharad and Sangeeta Zare, both in their forties, were moved by the plight of poor children and began a humble effort to educate them, but quickly realised that teaching them various skills would secure their future.
The couple has set up ‘Majha Ghar,’ an ashram run by their organisation Manus Pratishthan, on 14 acres of land near Budhoda village in Ausa tehsil.The ashram is set up on 1.10 acres, while the remaining land is used for farming and various crops are produced by the children.
Mahatma Gandhi introduced the concept ‘Nai Talim’ in 1937, dreaming of making villages independent and self-reliant. Similarly, I want to make my children self-reliant. We teach children to make idols and other items by reusing and recycling materials,” said Sharad Zare.
The ashram’s expenses are met through the sale of farm produce and handicrafts made by the children, he said.
Over the years, the Zare couple have adopted 51 children from varied backgrounds, including those from red-light areas, orphans, children of sugarcane cutters and farmers who committed suicide.
The idea to work for the underprivileged children took shape when he came across a tribal girl performing tricks on a tightrope in Pune in 2016, said Sharad, a postgraduate in mass communication.
“The child was so talented, but she was deprived of education as she belonged to a poor family,” he said, adding that due to lack of opportunities children from such backgrounds get exposed to substance abuse and resort to crime.
Initially, the Zares started an ashram in a hilly area of Vantakli village in Parali tehsil in 2019 with 70 children. They were, however, forced to leave after two years due to political pressure. They then moved to Ambejogai, Katgaon, and finally shifted to Latur district in March last year.
The ashram is now home to children between the ages of six and 16 years, some of whom are enrolled in a day school nearby while the rest are taught at the ashram itself.
For an all-round development, the timetable at the ashram has been designed to include yoga, pranayam, voluntary labour and sports, apart from regular classes, which are run by socially conscious teacher, who offer their services for free.
The couple kept up their efforts even during the COVID-19 pandemic by starting ‘shala baherchi shala’ for the children of sugarcane cutters.
“There are many drawbacks in our education system. Modern technology has forced children to depend on bookish knowledge. It is necessary to teach them skills and make them self-reliant,” he said.

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