What do you think you will be doing in your Seventies? I imagine myself sitting back with a cup of tea and reminiscing about the years gone by. At 74 years of age, Snehlata Hooda is busy running and managing a school for the underprivileged children. With over four decades of experience teaching at the Delhi government school, Gaurav Maa as she is fondly referred to says, “social work is in my DNA.” Holding fort at a makeshift school in Gurugram’s Sector 43, catering to children of domestic workers, daily wage labourers, rag pickers and other underprivileged communities, Gaurav Maa’s initiative has come a long way.
The school was set up in 2005 with barely 20 students, and today has over 200 students.
“Initially I would personally walk the streets and convince parents to send their children to my school. It was easier for parents to send these children out to work rather than waste their time in a school.” It took a long time to break this belief but Gaurav Maa has managed to do so. Gaurav Maa belonged to an era when girls were not often allowed to do much, besides bear children and manage the home. “I lived in the purdah days. Girls were to cover their head and not speak in front of the men at all,” she recounts. “I was however lucky to be born to parents who were forward thinking. It was because of them that I got to see the inside of a school.”