In a country like India, with one of the fastest growing populations, earning a livelihood and taking care of the members of the family becomes a primary matter of concern while education of children may take a backseat. For underprivileged kids education is even harder to come by. Mostly this is due to shortage of teachers, books, basic facilities, and insufficient public funds to cover the cost of education.
Chaitali Gupta, the lady who calls herself the mother of more than 600 children, is a godsend for such underprivileged kids. Better known as Chaitali Didi, this 68 year old woman is an inspiration to us all on how we can make a difference in someone’s life. One needs to have the willingness to help and the courage to walk unpaved roads. Where most of us struggle to impact even a handful lives, Chaitali Didi, with The Learning Centre and Logic Centre, has touched the lives of hundreds of economically and mentally challenged children.
Chaitali Didi’s journey commenced in Kolkata with her marriage to an IIT professor, Dr Amitabh Gupta. After marriage, she moved to Mumbai but being unfamiliar with the local tongue, she felt truly lost. This is when Chaitali Didi quietly understood the necessity of fitting into her surroundings. Through the years, upon Dr Gupta’s insistence , she graduated with Masters in Sociology from Mumbai University and successfully took an interior designing job in IIT Mumbai, all the while teaching less fortunate kids at home. Soon after Dr Gupta's retirement in 2008, the couple, with no children of their own, decided to dive into social work completely to help those who needed them most.
Thus in 2010 the Logic Centre was born. Logic Centre is not an NGO with corporate backing. It is a small labour of love by Chaitali Didi, Dr Amitabh Gupta and their team of IIT professors. Moved by the plight of children in the slums next to the IIT campus, these individuals are empowering kids with education—the only weapon they know which will win the fight against poverty and impact lives for generations.
Initially, the Logic Centre used to run out of a small room in the slums. But as time went by, the kids who had enrolled started bringing in more and more kids with them. Dr Gupta put in his own pension funds into renting more rooms. But with the growing number of students it was difficult to keep up. Professor Shobha, one of the team members, went door-to-door in the Hiranandani Gardens neighbourhood raising funds.
Things gradually began to improve for the Logic Centre and in 2011 hardware company Intel set up a computer lab for the kids there. By 2012, more IIT professors such as Professor S.D. Agashe and Professor Supratik Chakraborty joined the cause. Nirmesh Meheta (currently the treasurer), an ex-student from IIT and IIM Ahmedabad, also joined them and gave them tremendous support. In December 2012, Logic Centre was officially registered as an NGO under the name Logic Centre and Community Welfare Association (LCCWA).
The facilities provided to these children, however, were not limited to just education. Chaitali Didi knew that even though education was their primary concern, it wasn’t the only one. Hence, the Logic Centre set up free health check-up camps where they realized that many of the kids were severely malnourished. Eventually, with the help of many local volunteers, Logic Centre began feeding these kids hot meals during the evening classes. For some children, this was the only nutritious meal of the day.
The LCCWA also constructed libraries, study rooms and started co-curricular classes such as painting, yoga and sports in their limited space to provide a holistic learning and welfare environment. Today, the Centre continues to run with the help of volunteers with Chaitali Didi looking after the day-to-day operations. “The hardest part is yet to come”, says Chaitali Didi, “when the COVID-19 lockdown will be completely lifted.” The mental health of many children is very disturbed, she says, and for them to focus on academics will be extremely challenging. Some kids have lost their parents to the pandemic and some have been cramped up in small places with many people. Yet, for those who have basic internet and devices, Logic Centre is offering online educational games and counselling sessions.
At an age where they have no children of their own to take care of them, Chaitali and Amitabh Gupta are full of enthusiasm and ready to go! When society suggests that you lay low and relax, the Gupta couple have taken on a challenge that is larger than life. This senior citizen couple also has proved to the world that you don’t need to be wealthy in in order to do good. Dr Gupta even spent his own pension on the LCCWA. They have shown us that giving is not a life stage phenomenon. It is not about abundance. It is about listening to the call of the needy and, as a responsible citizen, acting on it. Giving Circle urges you to listen to these inner voices and act; act by joining the cause of the Gupta couple or other causes that may be close to your heart.
Logic Centre will soon be a part of Giving Circle. Till then, if you wish to join the cause, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org