Angel Xpress Foundation connects people who want to do constructive social work with less privileged children who want to learn. The volunteers teach municipal school children in public spaces like parks or promenades for 2-3 hours a day.
Mumbai resident Anubha Sharma stumbled upon her true calling when she spotted a group of elderly retired men teaching street children. She was on a long break from work, and had already tried volunteering at some organisations because she wanted to give back to society.
Watching the elderly men with the street children moved her and she asked them if she should bring some breakfast for the children, but one of the elders said she should teach them something instead.
Soon, she realised the children attending municipal schools had major gaps in knowledge compared to regular school-going children of their age. One day, on a chilly January morning, when she was teaching the children, one of the kids huddled up next to her, feeling cold.
The children would come in simple frocks or shirts and trousers, ill-prepared for the cold. She then put up a Facebook post asking for donations of warm clothes for the street children. “That post went viral and someone put it on BBM,” she says. “I had 3000 people calling me in the next 10 days.” That’s when she realised that so many people, including herself, wanted to help but didn’t know how.
This realisation led her to start Angel Xpress Foundation (AXF), along with Beena Advani, a teacher who believed that if enough educated and affluent people started doing constructive social work, the impact could be tremendous.
Anubha started the Foundation as an attempt to create an opportunity to bridge the gap between people who want to give back to society, and underprivileged children who want to learn,” she says, adding that people don’t have to go out of their way for it. “
Today, there are about 200 women who take time out from their schedules to help over 800 children. They come from various backgrounds – finance, business, art. Some of them are still working, some have quit, and some are housewives
AXF supports new volunteers by helping them out with curriculum, training and assessments.
Besides residents, Anubha also approaches schools and corporates to take up the cause, especially companies that have a mandatory community service program as part of their CSR.
When the children are exposed to opportunities, their talents shine through. There were some girls who were really good at art and have been picked up by an art school. Some were good at dance and now they have received scholarships for dance.
Anubha says that when she was young, most of her actions were driven by the thought of people taking small steps to create a better world she adds that If it is in your power to help someone, then the most sensible and noble thing to do is to exercise that power.