Mr. Harshal Dhoke, an alumnus of IIM Rohtak of Batch 2015-17, started his initiative, Shashi Dream Foundation, a volunteering group in 2018. His mission was to make education affordable and reachable to underprivileged children to make their lives better. His efforts have borne fruitful results, and the NGO currently has 100 students under its ambit with plans of expansion across India. He has recently been conferred with the Swami Vivekananda National Youth Award for his social work in Maharashtra.
Mr. Harshal, a native of Katol - a small town near Nagpur, is the first IITian from his hometown and had completed his electronics engineering from IIT BHU in 2015, post which he joined IIM Rohtak. He is currently working with the State Bank of India and is also responsible for managing the chief functioning of Shashi Dreams.
It was during a conversation with his household help, where she expressed her worries about the dearth of educational opportunities, that the seed of opening up a foundation for the underprivileged got planted in his mind. He very aptly named it after his mother, as it is every mother's dream to see her child get a good education, and Shashi Dream Foundation was born.
There are currently two centers under the first vertical, Shashi Paathshaala. One is in Katol, and the other is in a village 20 km away. At present, both the centers have a combined strength of 100 students from classes 1st-6th under their ambit, and 80% of them are girls. Mr. Harshal explains this is a significant achievement as now they get the chance to study and complete their homework in the evening instead of washing clothes or utensils. Shashi Dreams has also opened up employment opportunities for people passionate about making a change in society and thus provides a two-way model of providing both education to children he fondly calls 'bacchas' and employment opportunities to people.
The second vertical is the stationery distribution drives. Shashi Dream aims to remove the barrier to education by distributing stationery items like compass boxes, pencils, and notebooks and act as a bridge between the underprivileged and education. For the past seven years, it has become a ritual to distribute notebooks during the holy puja, where people from the neighboring villages come together and pray. They have distributed more than 10,000+ notebooks until now.
The path to establishing this noble-minded foundation hasn’t been easy for Mr. Harshal. Still, his zeal and determination to make a meaningful contribution to society have helped him stay the course. Mr. Harshal bears all the expenses, like paying the electricity bills and salaries. Fortunately, more and more people are now coming together to contribute to this kind gesture, which was evident from the crowdfunding he could generate - 40k in only two days!
Amid the current pandemic situation, to ensure the continuous dissemination of quality knowledge, Shashi Dream plans to establish its digital classroom and deliver weekly informative videos to its children. He has further plans of expansion across the country, especially in states having low literacy rates. He has more than 30 people pan-India working in his team, and he firmly believes that by hiring the right people, more than 80% of the work gets taken care of.
Talking about his alma mater, he feels lucky and grateful to be a part of the IIM Rohtak family. The two years were instrumental in providing learnings and letting him uncover the potential that has taught him how to deal with the challenges life has thrown at him. He talks passionately about his love for marketing and how he can apply classroom learning in real-life situations. His hard work reflects in his professional life, too, where he has received several awards and is currently working as the Assistant Vice President at SBI.
His encouragement to the current students is to not let this gift of education go waste and fully utilize the golden two years of what will probably be the final years of education in the lives of many. He concluded with, "Keep on learning and continuously keep upgrading yourself to be a better version of you every single day."