Generation Share: The change-makers building the Sharing Economy by Benita Matofska and Sophie Sheinwald is out this month. The book takes readers on a journey around the globe to meet the people who are changing and saving lives by building a Sharing Economy, including Ashok Rathod who is 29 years old and was born in one of Mumbai’s biggest slums, Ambedkar Nagar. In 2006, he founded the OSCAR Foundation (Organisation for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility), a social enterprise that provides after school programmes using football to attract, educate and empower underprivileged children. OSCAR has educated over 3,000 children.
Sharing means saving future generations; if we offer better education, children can grow up to be good human beings, making a positive contribution to the world. When my best friend was 11, he dropped out of school to work. He spent his money on drinking, gambling and smoking. I was lucky, my father encouraged me to study. I saw two paths in life – to study and build a future, or drink, gamble and live in poverty. I knew I wanted to educate others that they had choices.
I learned football from the street, I learned teamwork and leadership. I realised I could address the issue of school dropouts. I saved up and bought a football for 400 rupees (£4). With one ball, I could help several children. At OSCAR, we give them an education in maths, English, IT and life skills. If they complete our classes, they can play football once a week and participate in competitions and camps. Our programme has 100% success rate. When I started, the school dropout rate was 55–60%, now it’s 15–20%.
We are not asking them to change for us, we are asking them to change for themselves. If they don’t want to, then OSCAR can’t help them. One boy, Govind, dropped out of school at 11 because he wasn’t getting enough food. He got a job in a restaurant where he could eat and get paid 600 rupees a month (£6). When he saw his friend playing football at OSCAR he wanted to play. I said, ‘OK, but you have to go to school.’ I enrolled him and now he is in Germany studying sports management at university.
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Image Credit: Sophie Sheinwald