In a world where traffic jams, tight deadlines and slow Wi-Fi are enough to crush our souls, it is truly inspiring to meet an individual who has persevered through much more with enough optimism and drive left over to change the lives of children who desperately needed help.
We are proud to introduce, Ashok Deshmane, Computer Science graduate, humanitarian, superhero and all round nice guy.
Growing up, Ashok and his family endured years of uncertainty and hardship as did the other families of the drought ravaged farming community in the Parbhani district of Maharashtra. From a young age, he channelled his thoughts into poetry often focussed on the issues faced by farmers due to drought. He soon realised that poetry alone could not solve the problems his community faced.
Determined to make a difference, Ashok set out to get an education and after years of hard work he graduated with a Masters in Computer Science. This earned him a well-paying job in Pune but he was still affected by news of the worsening conditions in his home town.
2014-2015 was a rough time for drought affected families, and this was directly affecting their children's education. “When there is no food to put in the stomach, what's the point of putting anything in the brain?” - was their attitude.
Ashok began by donating a part of his salary to charity but realised that this too wasn’t enough. He made the decision to dedicate his time and effort to help the children in his community.
He started teaching local kids over the weekends but unfortunately their families had to move to a different town so they could not continue learning with him. He was heartbroken and decided that he would create a home for the complete all-round development of kids.
In December 2015, he set the foundations for Snehwan and began building up a home-school for kids while working nights and weekends at his regular job.
“At the time, I would only sleep for around 3 hours a night”
In the first year, he had 18 kids from 4 districts in Maharashtra. He also brought his parents from Parbhani to Pune to help him. His father taught the kids Tabla, and his mother pitched in with home cooked meals for all kids. After getting married in 2016, his wife joined in to do her part to help the kids. They live as one big happy family along with around 25 young boys in the home. They also provide education and development programs for 15 girls from neighbouring homes. Whenever he decides to have a family he plans to enrol them at Snehwan.
In addition to academics they also teach arts and crafts, music, and computer science. They have a library with 1000 books, practice daily prayers and conduct yoga sessions, Sunday movie nights, to ensure complete development.
“My proudest moments are when I see my kids, who did not know their A,B,C’s, speak fluently and confidently in front of crowds of 300 people.”
Ashok has no plans to slow down as he expands his efforts to other areas such as Agriculture. He is worried about the decline in interest in agrarian jobs and believes that if this trend continues India may soon have to start importing food grains from China. He is laser focused on building a school for agriculture, since most of the children are from farming backgrounds. We wish him all the best with his future endeavours as we salute his truly MeaningfulMo.
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