#HeroesOfChange: Meet Harsh Singh

“I would see young children carrying heavy coal and working for hours. They should’ve been in school like me, but they didn’t have the same opportunities. I soon realised that it wasn’t just the kind of work they had to deal with, it’s also all the physical and mental health issues that come with it. So many of the children were left with serious, life-threatening illnesses.

The daily wagers in Dhanbad earn their living by coal mining, and their struggles are plenty. I always wanted to help, but I just didn’t know how. As soon as I finished class 10, I decided to not wait any longer. I started Sahadeva Foundation in 2019 with the aim to help the children of coal miners get the education they deserve. But their parents were hesitant. They make such a meagre amount of money, so even with both the parents working, it isn’t enough to feed the family. “If we send them to school, how will we eat?” they would ask me, and I had nothing to say. It’s not that they don’t want their children to study, but survival is more important.

Soon, we were able to convince more and more parents. Even those parents who refused to send their daughters to school became more open to the idea. Today we have over 200 children and have also tied up with a private school so that we can register our students for their class 10 board exams. We have 12 teachers who cover subjects like math, English, science, and art among others. We also give them meals so that they’re able to stay healthy. Our aim is to focus on the overall development of these children and give them every opportunity that we can.

When I see these children in class, my day is made. They’re so enthusiastic and curious. They tell me they want to become doctors, engineers, IPS officers…I hope we’re able to support them through all their dreams. That’s what I hope to see Sahadeva Foundation doing next — supporting these children through college as well. But I know we can’t do it alone.

As for me? I was 17 when I started the NGO, now I’m studying BTech while also working towards the foundation’s mission — to help the children of coal miners make a name for themselves in society. That will always be the most important thing for me.”

- Harsh Singh, Founder, Sahadeva Foundation