‘Disturbed by the conditions in her ancestral village, this accomplished woman gave up on a corporate career to start a school for children.’
Pooja Mishra belongs to a remote village called Purasi in the Rae Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. Her parents decided to migrate to Lucknow when she was very young. Their decision changed Pooja’s life, as she was now able to get the best education, exposure and opportunities in the city. Later, she went to the US and worked there for six years. She returned to India to do her MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta.
On visits back to her ancestral village, she saw that the villagers have not got the kind of opportunities that she had in her life. The girls were married off early. Good education was not accessible and poverty was an accepted part of their lives.
This disturbed Pooja to the core and she wanted to do something about it. After two years of her education at IIM, she opted out of campus placements. She was the only one in her batch who said no to the high paying jobs that normally come the way of an IIM graduate.
After getting this coveted degree, she headed straight to Purasi village and started the Gurukul School in 2012. Gurukul was conceived as a school that would give the children of Purasi a much deserved chance to lead better lives.
Pooja started the school with 23 children from underprivileged backgrounds. The school fee was set at Rs. 100 per month but when Pooja and her team realised that the families couldn’t afford this much small amount, they decided to provide education, books and stationery for free.
In the last four years, Gurukul has been able to bring about commendable changes, especially in bringing confidence to the faces of the children. The school had started with just 23 children, but the number of kids studying at Gurukul has risen to 1000 today.
“We might not be able to produce IITians from here but we’ll definitely bring out good citizens,” says contended Pooja.
The medium of education is English and the school has qualified teachers who come in from Rae Bareilly. The school is now equipped with a computer lab in the school and a library which perhaps was unimaginable in a low-income village like Purasi.
“I found myself unable to run the school with the little funds that I had. We were struggling to make ends meet and shutting down seemed like the only option. But when the children came running to me asking when the school would reopen after the summer vacation, I couldn’t tell them that it might not. That’s when I thought of reaching out to my batch mates from IIM Calcutta. And to my greatest relief, they supported Gurukul with an overwhelming response.”
Pooja is running an online crowdfunding campaign to build classrooms for the children of Gurukul. You can contribute and help in educating these children here
Uttar Hamara salutes Pooja, who by 2025, wants to touch the lives of a million children across the country!