Vimla Kaul, citizen next door

Guldasta lets children bloom so that their future blossoms

Established in 1995, Guldasta owes its existence to the sheer tenacity of Vimla Kaul and her husband late Prof Hari Mohan Kaul.
An engineering graduate from BITS, Pilani, Prof Kaul served as Chief Engineer in the Government-run Central Ground Water Board but took voluntary retirement and joined as a professor in the Indian School Of Mines, Dhanbad, Jharkhand. His better half, Vimla, was armed with a post-graduate degree in history from Miranda House, Delhi, and took up teaching as a profession. She joined Carmel School, Dhanbad, as English teacher, while he taught at ISM, Dhanbad.
After Prof Kaul’s superannuation in 1993, the couple moved to Delhi and settled in Sarita Vihar. As part of a Rotary Club drive, once they went to the village of Madanpur Khadar, near Sarita Vihar, New Delhi, with some biscuits for village kids. A woman in the village praised their efforts but remarked that “instead of giving food to children, they should teach them how to earn their livelihood.” It was a thought-provoking comment that made the couple think of ways and means to make a difference in the lives of village children. They thought of starting a school (Guldasta). The idea gave a new lease of life to the retired couple, who always wanted to do something for the society in general and children in particular.
The first batch of the school that started in the village chaupal had only five students and a teacher. The couple soon shifted Guldasta to their housing colony in Sarita Vihar where around 150 students enrolled. But the initial years were fraught with trouble for Kauls. Their neighbours forced the school out of the colony; undaunted, they tried to start the school in the local community centre but were denied permission. So they moved Guldasta to a park inside the housing complex but were asked to vacate the area soon. The couple finally moved the school to the municipal park and ran it from there until an NGO, Madan Mohan Malaviya Mission, adopted it in October 2011. The financial aid helped her rent a three-room building for the school.
And today the school that held classes in a municipal park for 16 long years, finally has classrooms, children and teachers, one of whom is a former student.
Prof Kaul passed away in 2009 and Vimla has been running the project single-handedly since then. To take the project forward, she started an NGO — Vasundhari Society for Social Action — in January 2012.
And Madan Mohan Malaviya Mission and Vasundhari Society together plan to take the school ahead to give underprivileged kids their lost childhood and some happy memories to last a lifetime.

Submitted by Shilpi Singh.

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