November 30, 2020
A sense of Deja vu crept over me a few months ago. It was, as usual, a very similar day at the School. But the feeling was an overpowering sensation racing within me, and nothing about it was anything but ordinary. The School bell rang signaling the end of the day. I stood at the foot of the stairs to the main building exit. I almost felt I was having an out of body experience of watching myself watch the countless number of students who were streaming from the building going towards the exit doorways where the school buses were parked.
I felt my voice asking me, “where did all these children come from?” Even before this thought was complete, I was transported to June 10th, 2001, when I began Infant Jesus School by teaching three children – One of them being my own eldest son. Driving this endeavor was a single-minded determination to provide quality education to the children, and a secret desire to make my mark in this world doing this.
But the obstacles to reach towards this goal were relentless and severe, from the bureaucratic and regularity hassles to lack of information and knowledge, made simple tasks difficult and excruciating. I remember a particular instance of a simple local governance approval which on hindsight should have taken a day but took nearly six months to complete. I look back and laugh at the overall ludicrousness from being asked for bribes, to been threatened with deliberate slowdowns or reminded that being a woman was no place for such a high-stress environment. They say your initial days are the toughest and to that, I want to remind myself was a gross understatement. Nonetheless, you soldier on and take it one day at a time. I would be candid in admitting there were many days that I thought I would give up and, in some instances, I came extremely close on more than one occasion.
In 2003 we hit a hundred students, which gave me pause to realise despite the uphill battles I faced, I was in the right direction. When the 100th student was confirmed, the admission made me sit in my office alone and thank god for supporting me. I recall I had clasped my hand in heartfelt thanks to the Lord for guiding me till this very moment. I felt the lord telling me “You reached so far, now make it count, your students deserve you to succeed”. That moment I knew my calling had come. I knew whatever the problems’ going forward; I needed to prove the Lord’s faith in me.
I knew the journey was going to be tough but did not anticipate it was also going to be a long one. It made all the initial problems appear to be mediocre. Because as you slowly grew so did your team size. So not only were you responsible for the students but also for the payroll of all the staff you employed.
It took me a while to delegate responsibilities, and this is something I would like to correct if I get a chance to go back. My advice to entrepreneurs would be to not do everything yourself but instead build that team and empower them. Once it dawned on me that I already had a dedicated, talented and loyal team in place, I began to pull back, and that’s when the school grew faster in stature and higher quality.
In 2014, two significant landmarks happened: The School managed to get CBSE certification and also hit 1000 students. This certification gave us official credibility. The people and parents in our surrounding areas started preferring us for their kids rather than as an alternative.
There were trials and tribulations, motivators and naysayers but my faith in the Lord & my family stood behind me like a rock. My husband and children were the most significant motivators & believers in me and of what I was doing.
And the fact that Infant Jesus School has played a significant role in building and nurturing thousands of children makes my heart fill with pride. We have not only educated the future generation but made them independent. I am reminded of a simple yet truthful fact “ If you do something with good intentions, more often than not life will help you succeed”
(Deepa Edwin is the Director and founder member of Infant Jesus School)