Story behind TEDx Shekhavati venue

Yesterday was one of the best day I’ve had in a very long time. I’ve
been carrying a deep hurt for a long time. To see people who I had
taught to become the torch-bearers of progress, disinterested in
change, made me struggle to look for positives in social work.
Usually, people have a simplistic view towards social change; they
assume that the ‘poor’ are waiting to be rescued. This is why, one of
the harder lessons has been a realisation that poverty has become the
comfort zone for many. Dhaka trip compounded that belief.

Since I came to India, it’s been a busy trip trying to balance meeting
family for the first time after marriage and between handling
TEDxShekhavati work. Luckily, one of my 8-Day Academy student is the
brightest star in our little town and he is also spearheading the
execution of all my plans. He is Najmuddin.

Let’s come to the point now. I visited the TEDxShekhavati 2011 venue
yesterday. I think we couldn’t have been gifted with a better venue.
The school was in ruins and it was so hard to believe that it is a
functioning school! KIshan Paathshaala was built in the 1920s as a
school for Harijans (‘untouchables’) and since then it has evolved
into a school for less-fortunate children. These are children whose
fathers are donkey cart pullers, or children who are orphans or whose
fathers have left them and re-married, leaving them with their
grandparents who can barely take care of them. 200 such children go to
school here. There are eight teachers in the school.

Yesterday, I went to the school and they did an impromptu dance
performance for me. I was so touched by the sincereity of those
children and teachers. Then, one of the teachers told me that their
school is considered the lowest grade in Fatehpur and because of us
(our family), this school and the entire area around us has received a
‘lift’. The school—almost 80 years old—does not have toilets! But
because of TEDxShekhavati, toilets are now being built in the school
and will be completed before the event on February 5, 2011. The school
is finally being painted too!

There is so much excitement in the community. I have a team of more
than 20 volunteers which is a HUGE change compared to last year where
I was driven to frustration because nobody wanted to take work
delegated by me. This time, I have made Najmuddin in-charge of
delegating tasks and everything seems smooth so far 

Here are some photos of the school. There is a photo of the empty
ground which is the venue for TEDxShekhavati. The school uses this as
a playground for sports activities and it is right next to the school.
The small building (in the photos) is the school.

A big thank you to all those who contributed cash to make this event
happen. This is not just a conference or another TEDx event. This is a
movement from within the communities that is making great things
happen! A low caste school hosting such a big event…who could’ve


  1. Benedict Gnaniah said:

    wonderful.. inspiring stories come from such settings.. I belief. The real pearls are out here well on the flip side the others are just froth

  2. This is inspirational stuff. Great work Masarat, the students, parents and teachers involved deserve this transformation. 🙂

  3. Andrea said:

    Wonderfully inspiring Masarat, can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  4. Vicky said:

    Been following it. Noble intentions will always find meaningful expressions and support even in daunting situations. Wish you success.

  5. PKGulati said:

    Good luck… Girte hein shahsavar hi maidan-e-jung mein.. You have been an untiring soldier, victory is yours!! Glad to see things working out. Power to you.

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