Awakin Talks: Tejal Rajyagor
Tejal Rajyagor spends most of her time in the Umerkhadi Children's Observation Home in Mumbai. A home for vulnerable children and children in conflict with law, it is often referred to as the "chiller room" or "Bachchon ka Jail". Here she started the Aashiyana project, a volunteer run initiative which has been instrumental in starting art projects, health initiatives and a children's library. Combining resources from private, public and voluntary sources, she has managed to speed up the repatriation of children, reduce violence inside the home and inculcate values in children. More than her work, she represents an unrelenting spirit of service as reflected by the radiant ever-present smile that embraces all things around her.
As the feature speaker at Awakin Talks, Sid introduced her: "A couple of years ago I came across Tejal in Sachi's home at an Awakin Circle. I met her a couple of times after that and I would just casually ask her how her day was. Instantly, I could see this big bright smile and she replied with "GREAT". But only later when I heard about her life, her story, her journey, I realized that the smile was a decision. It was an intention she held to be smiling through her journey. Several years ago Tejal was actually a part of a corporate setup, and later found herself working with Give India which is one of India's largest online non profits. But two years ago she came across a children's home and observation center in Dongri which is locally known as the 'bachchon ka jail' (jail for the children). I remember going there last month and I was startled by how harsh some of these environments can be. These are kids who've been neglected by society, on the other side of law for majority of their life. There is violence, there is ill will, there is hatred, probably one of the harshest environments you could find but within all of that negativity, you see this one shining smile, and that's Tejal. That's what I learn a lot from her. And that's the same smile you see in the Children's home, same smile you see in Sachi's Awakin when I ask her how her day went and I'm sure it's the same smile we will see on stage here."