Touching Lives-The Chef, the Dancer and the Nurse

The Chef

"My job is not truly my accomplishment, it is what Butterflies strived for me to be. And now finally I am that somebody”, says a beaming Hasim. Hasim like many other children at Delhi’s Kashmere Gate area was introduced to Butterflies School of Culinary & Catering during his classes at Kashmere gate contact point. He comes from a small town of Bihar and his father passed away sometime back. After completing his training at BSCC he was selected for a training program at Taj Group of Hotels. According to him he was not sure during his tenure as a trainee there whether they would ever hire him as an employee later. However, Hasim has a track record of excelling at whatever he puts his mind to. From being a good cricketer to a great theatre and vocal artist, he has never shown any reluctance in doing whatever is asked of him. After a lot of determination and hard work The Taj Group invited him for a job interview. Hasim explains that he has always been curious of simple things that we take for granted and during the interview he was asked to explain what turmeric is and why is it a spice. He correctly answered the question and was hired immediately. He worked for the prestigious european restaurant Orient Express at the Taj Palace Hotel for several years and was extremely happy and well taken care of which was evident from the joy on his face whenever he talked about his work and culture. Indebted to them for ignoring his lack of knowledge as compared to the rest of the competing staff he also learnt a lot from their impeccable methods.

As his confidence and knowledge increased, he applied and was selected as a Chef in a Luxury Cruise Liner based out of the USA. Hasim has now moved to the USA to begin this new exciting phase of his life. He feels that the platform Butterflies gave him not only changed his life but also stirred him to bring the same kind of transformation in other BSCC trainees. While working in India, Hasim volunteered to take theorotical and practical clases once a week at BSCC and teach them more about different cuisines apart from Indian. During his first visit he introduced them to different sorts of cheese, their city of origin and their composition. He was accompanied by Mr Deewan Bisht who is a specialist chef of continental cuisine. They together explained different sorts of pastas and Mediterranean sauces to the curious students. “Trials are a good way of keeping people on their toes and promoting innovation and improvement in a conventional dish. They themselves might be surprised by what they are capable of”, said Hasim who gives himself constant trials to improve existing menus. 

The Story of a Dancer

Bilal Khan is a 20 year old young man who hails from Kalia Nagar Village, Kathihar in the state of Bihar which is an eastern province of India. His father Mr. Faruk Khan, mother Ms. Meruna Khatun (step mother), 2 brothers and 2 sisters make up his family. Bilal is the eldest of the children. 
Bilal’s father had moved to Delhi 30 years ago to make a living to support the family. He opened a road side eatery at Fatehpuri near Delhi railway station to sell eggs.  Bilal was admitted to a Madrassa, an Islamic school in his village. However, at 9 years of age Bilal moved to Delhi to be with his father and pursue ‘better’ studies. His father tried to admit him in a school but it required money which he could not afford then. So he arranged for private tuition for Bilal so that he could learn Hindi. Thus Bilal took Hindi lessons for 6 months. And he helped his father in the shop. 
One day while Bilal was walking around Jama Masjid area he came in contact with children and staff of Butterflies. He got interested in what they were doing and got himself involved in the education class. Gradually he started participating in all activities of Butterflies. He continued to stay with his father and participated regularly in education and all activities at the contact point of Butterflies. As time went by Bilal got involved in theatre and journalism. Butterflies trains children in journalism and we publish a newspaper called Delhi Children’s Times. He also got the opportunity to attend a training conducted by the National School of Drama (NSD).  
In 2001 Butterflies started to run a night shelter in Fatehpuri which is close to Delhi railway station and Bilal came there to attend various life skills workshops. In 2002 Butterflies was able to get the premier modern dance school DanceWorx to conduct dance workshops for boys and girls at our night shelter. Mr. Firoz, a faculty of DanceWorx, was the trainer. This was something that triggered Bilal’s passion and he stared participating in the dance classes with lot of enthusiasm and commitment. As expected, Bilal did very well. In May 2003 Bilal had the first live show at Siri Fort auditorium in front of a huge audience. His dance movements were sheer magic! Since then there was no looking back for Bilal. He continued to practice hard and learned various genre of modern dance….. Jazz, contemporary, Ballet, Salsa, tango, hip hop and bollywood. 
In 2006 Bilal got the opportunity to work as a dance trainer in DanceWorx Company and was paid Rs.4,000 per month. Gradually his monthly earning went up to Rs. 15,000. In the same year Bilal was invited to perform at the International Film Festival in Goa alongside famous Indian pop and Bollywood singers and music directors like Shankar, Ehsan and Loy. This was the defining moment in his life. 
While continuing to study dance and work professionally he concentrated on his school studies too and Bilal completed 10th grade high school studies through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Butterflies is accredited to NIOS. He also got basic computer education at the night shelter. 
Today Bilal is a recognized professional modern dancer and freelance choreographer. He takes workshop for groups of students from schools and colleges. Some of the prestigious schools and colleges have engaged him as a choreographer for their annual day functions and university cultural festivals. Bilal today earns Rs.40000 per month. 
In future Bilal wants to travel to other countries to learn more dance forms. He also dreams of becoming an actor. 
Bilal’s words: “Butterflies gave me the opportunity to study and participate in various activities….the most important hand in learning dance. Also significant was the space in the night shelter. Moreover I was given the support and flexibility to continue my dance lessons. Butterflies played a significant role in supporting me to achieve my dream to become a professional dancer.” 

A Budding Talent

Pankaj, a boy of 14 years is a native of Sharsa district of Bihar. His family comprises his parents, three brothers and one sister. Pankaj’s father works as a mason in his homeland. They own two kathas of cultivable land. With the consent of his parents, Pankaj went to Chennai with his uncle to learn the work of mehndi painting. For four months Pankaj worked with his uncle. But he didn’t like his stay there because he couldn’t understand the local language and found it hard to communicate. Moreover, his uncle did not pay him any money for his work. Therefore, in June 2005, Pankaj decided to return home and went to the railway station to get on to a train to Patna, the capital city of Bihar. He did not inform his uncle about it. Pankaj had to spend one night in the railway station, as he did not get any train going to Patna. The next day while he was resting under a fan at a waiting room area, he was arrested by a policeman. The policeman made him do cleaning jobs at the police station. Pankaj was afraid and didn’t know what lay in store for him. So he ran away and went to platform 10, where he boarded a Delhi bound train. 

Inside the train, Pankaj was checked for his ticket by one TTE (Train Ticket Examiner). As Pankaj had no ticket, the TTE told him that he would land up in jail for traveling without a ticket. To this Pankaj replied that he had no money and that if he was sent to jail he would at least get two meals a day. The TTE was angered by such a response and slapped Pankaj and then let him free. Two days later Pankaj reached New Delhi Railway Station. 

On reaching Delhi, Pankaj wandered on the street and came to the Fatehpuri area. He met a person who offered him work as helper in his CD shop near Ballimaran. But Pankaj refused the job because the location was far and he was also apprehensive about the person. In days to come Pankaj made few friends. He joined one of his friends to work in a restaurant in a nearby area called Bagdiwar. Pankaj worked there for about 20 days but he got hints that he was not going to be paid. Therefore, he left this job as well. Pankaj then started working as a rag picker to make a living. 

While Pankaj was working in the restaurant, he used to visit the toilet complex of the Fatehpuri Night Shelter. There he saw one hall where only children were staying (being managed by Butterflies). One morning he observed that the children in the shelter were having milk and banana for breakfast. He also learnt that the children studied in the shelter and also participated in various programmes. Soon he was motivated to be a part of these children and started attending the education classes in the morning. 

As he worked hard picking rags, Pankaj was also regular for his education classes. Seeing his interest in studies, Pankaj was enrolled in the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). In addition to his interest in studies, Pankaj has a love for drawing/ painting and dreams of becoming a professional artist someday.

Butterflies staff noticing the painter’s talent in him, provided opportunities for his skill to blossom. And Pankaj has delivered. He performed well in a painting competition organized by HUDCO in September 2005, won the second prize in a painting competition organized by Butterflies on 10th December 2005, i.e. Human Rights Day on the theme ‘Child Rights’ and also won appreciation for his painting signifying the ‘Right to Education’.  

For being regular for his education classes and excelling in painting, Pankaj was enrolled in the computer classes. Now we see that Pankaj has been able to express his creativity even on the computer screen. 

Mark Knophler sings about “The Rag Picker’s Dream” and we pray that his dream comes true…. 

Becoming a Nurse

Poonam belonged to a financially backward family residing at Old Delhi Railway Station Area. Her father was a rickshaw puller and mother, a fruit vendor. She has two brothers and a younger sister. Poonam’s parents lived separately as her father was an alcoholic and showed little concern towards her family.

Butterflies staff came in contact with Poonam at a mandir (temple) near Fatehpuri and enquired about her family and came to know that Poonam was taken care of by her father’s friend. They nurtured her because her father had no concern towards her. The people associated with the mandir expressed that the girl child should be taken to a safe place because they were aware of the dangers on the street. Acting on the advice, six year old Poonam was brought to Butterflies Resilience Centre. 

Butterflies staff explored all the possibilities of sending her to school and she finally got admission in Ashadeep Foundation (ADF) Girls Hostel where the authorities enrolled her in the first standard. Being sincere and hardworking, she successfully completed her schooling from the institution and wanted to have a professional degree. Supported by Butterflies she got admission and completed a 3 years programme in general nursing and midwifery at St. George School of Management and Nursing, Bangalore after which she was placed in the prestigious St. Philomena’s Hospital of Bangalore as a staff nurse.

...and many more.


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