Sandeep Manohar Desai – begging on trains for money to teach slum kids

I was about to post this as a comment on one of the SMJ threads but I think this deserves a post. He is a true hero and please re tweet and share it on your FB profile. Thanks to Gaurav Mehra and CilemaSnob for this info.

A former marine engineer and a professor at a reputed management institute in Mumbai, Desai can often be seen in local trains with a bowl in his hand. He’s asking for money to teach underprivileged kids from Mumbai’s slums. Desai sometimes manages to collect as much as 700 rupees a day and the money collected goes to run a school he’s set up for slum children.

Contact Details

Mobile – +91- 9322757030
Email –
Address – A-4, Ujval Co-operative Housing Society Road No. 6, Pandurangwadi Goregaon (East) Mumbai 400063

Shloka school for slum kids

Shloka Missionaries
A6 Ujwal, Pandurangwadi,
Goregaon (East), Mumbai-400 063.
Maharashtra. India.
Tel: 9322757030

Sudhas World
553, Thiba palace road,
Ratnagiri -415612


Salman Khan’s donation to Professor Sandeep Desai

Mumbaikars actually shell out a lot of cash if convinced that the person deserves it.

Professor Sandeep Desai… Man with a mission..

Generous commuters put prof’s school for poor kids on track

As the train leaves Churchgate station, a deep voice announces in chaste Marathi, “Vidya daan sarva sreshtha daan aahe. (Donation towards education is the greatest donation.)” Standing amid the crush of commuters in the humid second-class compartment, a middle-aged man with a rucksack follows up his opening aphorism with a one-minute speech on how a small donation from commuters could help rescue the poor from the scourge of illiteracy. He proceeds to deliver the same speech in fluent English and Hindi and then extends his donation box.

Professor Sandeep Desai has been following this unusual routine for the last five months. Every morning, he boards a Churchgate-bound train from Goregaon and does the gruelling commute back and forth between the two stations to collect donations for his half-constructed school at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district. “I do this for six hours daily,” says the former engineer who used to teach at the S P Jain Institute of Management and Research.

Desai’s social service began in 1997 when he quit his job and took up other assignments to fund Shloka, a free English-medium school for children from the Goregaon slums. “After Shloka, which we started in 2005, we began our second school at Ratnagiri for poor rural children, but the construction got delayed due to a shortage of funds,” he says. That’s when he decided to collect money directly from the common man. “The response has been great. In just five months, I have collected over Rs 4 lakh,” he says.

The professor says it isn’t just about money—he actively looks for teaching volunteers as well. “I want people to be aware that if India has to progress, every child from the slums and rural areas has to become literate,” he says. During his collection drives, thus, Desai invites every commuter to become a vidya sevak or volunteer who can teach at his schools. “So far 15 people have volunteered,” he says. “The volunteers are free to teach whatever subjects they want, but we insist that they teach for at least 10 hours a month.”

On an average, Desai collects around Rs 3,000 every day. “I usually begin after noon and end by 6 pm. Commuters are usually reluctant to open their purse during peak hours,” he says. Initially he did feel awkward passing his hat around. “The first day I could not even make a speech till the train reached Andheri. But an inner voice told me that I was not begging for myself but for a greater cause that will change the lives of thousands of poor kids across Maharashtra,” he says.

Desai accepts donations from 50 paise to Rs 1,000 with equal humility. “I go back and do my accounts till the last denomination and deposit the money in the bank account maintained by the trust,” he says. His contributors range from youngsters to senior citizens. “Once, two cops who got into the train to catch hold of some card-playing commuters heard my speech and donated some money. This school, when it comes up, will be a living testimony to the generosity of Mumbai commuters,” he concludes, as boards another Borivli fast.

Actor Salman Khan was among the many people who came forward to lend a helping hand. The actor tweeted on Sunday, “Prof Sandeep Desai ka jawab nahi. Kamaal karte ho yaar prof sahib,” The actor has not only donated money for the school but even tweeted the bank account number of the school so that his fans can contribute.

“Salman called me up and he took my bank account details. He has told me that he will contribute,” Desai said, adding, “I have been inundated with calls and emails from across the world offering financial aid.”

But, according to Desai, he felt the “biggest” difference when he got into a train on Monday morning and was about to deliver his one-minute speech in Marathi, Hindi and English on how commuters could help rescue the poor from the scourge of illiteracy.
“People recognised me immediately and began donating money even before I began my speech. The response has been overwhelming and I collected Rs 8,200 in just three hours,” Desai said. “I think I can now fulfill the dream of my mother who was a school teacher. She too wanted to start a school in her village,” he added.

In 2001, Desai founded the Shloka Missionaries, a non-charitable trust, along with two other trustees in order to spread literacy among the poorest of poor in India. “We realised that though many poor students were highly intelligent, they failed in English and science. This was because they could not comprehend the medium of communication,” he says.



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