• Kausthub Sekar

    Guest Editor

    SAP Hybris Developer by profession. Avid reader, traveler, wildlife and nature enthusiast. Loves writing as a medium to connect, inspire & motivate people for a positive change.

    12 June 2018

MAHI BHAJNI – WONDER WOMAN OF BHOPAL

The woman who helped more than 300 children reclaim their lives! And pulled them out of drug addiction.

“Education is one of the most powerful elements in the fight against poverty and is a catalyst for development.”

Having said that, let’s talk about Mahi Bhajni (Child Rights Activist, Educationist, Yoga Instructor and the founder of Anunay Education & Welfare Society).

The excerpts from her interview points out how she helped alleviate the livelihood of children and their families in four slums of Bhopal.

Background

Mahi has helped over 300 children to curb their drug addiction and provided education to them, so that they can be freed from the gruesome cycle of poverty.

She founded Anunay Education & Welfare Society(AEWS) in 2011, that is working in the field of education and child rights. AEWS is well connected with other National and International NGO’s.

How did it start?

Ever since childhood, Mahi has been very empathetic and conducive. Her mother has been the driving force who taught her the power of compassion and affection.

“I've worked as a journalist too and always thought of trying to make a difference therefore post marriage I quit my job and chose to start AEWS” said Mahi.

Philosophy of Anunay?

AEWS has adopted a life-cycle approach of development focusing its interventions on children, their families and the larger community “After all growth is not the upliftment of any one sector but the upliftment of the whole community” said Mahi.

Why Yoga?

“Yoga helps in untangling one from the grip of any addiction thereby developing a balanced and positive mindset far. It also helps in increasing the concentration levels of these kids” said Mahi.

Mahi pursued the course of yoga from a well-known institute in Bengaluru with the idea of wholistic mental and physical development of the slum kids. She conducts yoga camps in government as well as private schools and old-age homes.

Key Achievements of Anunay Education and Welfare Society

“Some of the kids are already in government schools and a few in private schools. The best part is some of these kids are now the top rankers of their classes, this makes me very happy and proud” said Mahi.

Mahi started her journey from doing activities in slums and now plans to open a centre July. She is currently helping about 400 children to overcome their addiction and get their education.

Current Challenges?

In 2016 Mahi started with 4 centres with her savings and a little support from local organizations but one by one all the 4 centres got closed because of funding issues.

Currently she conducts activities in slums, which is challenging because of many issues for e.g. limited space and the intervention of the locals. The entire learning environment for kids gets disturbed and at times it becomes difficult for any external visitor or volunteer to feel comfortable in such an environment.

What do you tell these children and their parents once they join your center?

“I like to tell all the children to stay in school! We need to encourage them to go to school and continue their schooling because it is very easy to relapse and give into drugs, given their home life in the slums and a lot of times their own parents are into alcohol & drugs” said Mahi.

She also states how important it is for them to stay in school and learn about different and new things so that their little minds don’t wander off in the wrong direction. The process of drug de-addiction is a very difficult and time-consuming process and it’s not necessary that the children will always leave their old habits. That’s why parents need to be extra cautious with their children.

What are some steps that companies can take through CSR initiatives to bring about a positive change in the community?

Corporate support is very important for smooth functioning of NGO's. Please keep supporting them in any way, monetary or voluntary.

The main mission for AEWS is to make disadvantaged children capable by setting up e-Learning and counselling centers, so that these children don’t feel alone in this battle against drug and substance abuse.

If we talk in terms of numbers, then I think annually an approximate amount of 5 lacs per 100- 150 children is a bare minimum to create an environment with a good infrastructure with computers, indoor games etc. Drug de-addiction is a continued effort and sustainability in terms of efforts as well as financial support is essential.

Achievements and felicitations -

Mahi has been felicitated with multiple awards, to mention a few -

- “State level Youth Icon” award presented by Honorable Governor of Haryana Shri Kaptan Singh Solanki in 2015 at Dada Saheb Memorial Youth Icon Awards, held in Indore.

- “Bhopal Ratna” award by Vishwa Foundation in March 2016.

- “ADRIKA” award by Bhopal’s then Mayor Mrs. Krishna Gaur at Lions Club International’s District for social service.

She did her master’s in Journalism and is a commerce graduate from Barkatullah University, Bhopal.

Mahi has been a pillar in the fight to thrive and improve the situation of underprivileged children’s situation. She truly believes that “Education is the most powerful catalyst for social transformation”. Hundreds of children and their families have benefited by her NGO.

If you wish to support Mahi please reach out to her on mahibhajni@gmail.com