Who is Maruti?
Maruti Chauhan moved from rural Karnataka to the Ambedkar Nagar slum community in Mumbai when he was five years old. Aged 21, he still lives with his family in cramped conditions, with no running water, shower, toilet or furniture. His loving mother works hard in the fishing market to provide for the family. Life is very tough.
Maruti’s parents are uneducated and did not encourage him to go to school; instead they sent him out to earn money. As a small boy Maruti didn’t realise education was an option, he had no one to guide him.
It was an encounter with neighbour and founder of the OSCAR Foundation, Ashok Rathod that would change the direction of 10-year-old Maruti’s life. Ashok was concerned to see Maruti getting into trouble, so he enrolled him in school. He quickly became a diligent student, leaving his life of gambling and street games behind him.
Maruti is a Senior Football Coach for OSCAR and coach of the unbeaten OSCAR UK Boy’s Tour team 2017. He is an excellent ambassador for OSCAR and popular amongst his peers.
The UK Tour boosted Maruti’s confidence and gave him a positive outlook for the future. In April 2018 Maruti was invited to return to the UK to fulfil a 6-week internship with Beaudesert Park School.
“When I received the invite to return to the UK I was so happy. Slum children never imagine they will travel. Now I feel confident to tell everyone to believe in their dreams.”
In his own words Maruti talks about his time in the UK.
“At first I did not believe the invitation to the UK was real. I was so happy to be given the chance to travel again and improve my English for my C Licence football coaching. OSCAR gave me this opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it. I was very excited about my adventure; I felt confident but was worried the weather would be cold and the food bland. My experience was very different, the weather was warm and I loved eating healthy English food. The children at Beaudesert enjoyed teaching me to eat with a knife and fork and I taught them how to eat rice with their hands. We helped each other.
My house in the community is 3 metres squared. My bedroom in the UK was twice the size. I had never slept in a bed, so was scared I would fall out. I kept my clothes on to keep warm until I realised I should go underneath the duvet. It is amazing having a toilet and shower close by and washing clothes is easy in a machine.
The people in the UK have taught me a lot. The staff and children at Beaudesert Park School are very kind and Tony from the ‘Football Association FA1’ course helped me so much. I lived with my UK parents, Julian Sir and Lucinda Ma’am, who have guided and helped me. I am grateful to have the amazing support of Nicky Ma’am.
I may never own a big house with facilities, but I have learnt many important things, to eat healthy food, spend time with good people and to continue to give every one equal respect. I will continue to work hard, to believe in my dreams and make things happen for myself. I will not rely on others; I am responsible for my future. I have learnt one very valuable lesson.
It is not money that makes you happy. It is opportunity. I am poor but I have opportunities and that make me happy.
Beaudesert Park has taught me many teaching techniques to share with OSCAR. The teachers believe in gender equality, hard work, discipline and incentives, correcting the kids gently when they make a mistake. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Indian culture and teaching the children to count in Hindi. The children loved hearing about life in my community and how we celebrate the many Indian festivals. It was fun sharing our stories and learning from each other. I will never forget the amazing children and teachers at Beaudesert.
I have learnt it is OK to make a mistake.
Six weeks in the UK has changed the direction of my life, I realise it is focus; hard work and a positive attitude which will help me progress. I want to earn respect from my community and share my experience with the OSCAR family.
I will mentor the next OSCAR generation so they understand the value of education.
One day I will be a football coach for the India team.
Thank you everyone for being part of my journey.