Field Visit to School run by Harinavi Srijan at Village-Haral, 24-Pgs. (S), on 23.08.2008.
The afternoon of 23rd August 2008 (Saturday) was a remarkable one as I had the privilege of visiting the Facility being run by two energetic, young, social entrepreneurs, at Haral, 24-Pgs. (S). Haral is one among the many non-descript villages that dot the rural countryside of Bengal. Although it is on the periphery of Harinavi and within 5 Km. from Champahati, there is no school or health centre there. The people eke out a living by doing the seasonal work of making fireworks, between August-November and uncertain days of work as agricultural labourer for the rest of the year. Fireworks is hazardous for health; but even the toddlers of the village have no option but to try their hands at it for whatever paltry sums it fetches for their poverty stricken families.
Schooling was a dream for most children here until Avijit Guha and Rupak Choudhuri, decided to mend matters. They started the Primary School in a temporary structure put up on a rented piece of land, with two simple rooms. Three local persons, two of them women, are teachers in the school for around 50 children. These teachers have also taken on the responsibility of bringing literacy to about 20 women, for the majority of whom it is probably the first brush with education. It was primarily to interact with these women that Avijit and Rupak had been kind enough to invite me there.
We arrived there at around 5.00 P.M and found the school for the adults well in progress. It is only on the weekends that these ladies can make some time for school, away from their varied responsibilities. Taboos and jeers, they have braved quite some hurdles to be regulars here. The session is on as they practice writing the Bengali alphabets on their slates. Some are quite adept; others require a quick sneak at the open book. The two teachers are exhorting everybody to write on their own - an exam is scheduled for next Sunday and Avijit declares that the better performers have prizes coming their way. Meanwhile, I got introduced to them - Tulu Halder and Purnima Mondol are particularly impressive with their desire to take quick strides ahead. The rest of the group is no less enthusiastic, as the pride is evident when they declare that they can now read the No. of a bus, or can put their signatures on paper. Their emerging sense of independence is quite evident. They take pride in their new-found abilities, and though there is a hint of hesitation in some, most feel confident that they will improve with perseverance. It was wonderful to watch these women in their pursuit towards self-reliance and self esteem.
I spoke to them about setting their own goals and not be perturbed by the pace. The eternal hope that springs in the human heart should be the driver so that they keep up their journey for a better tomorrow. Avijit has a futuristic plan of setting up some vocational training for them at a later stage so that they can find avenues to augment their income. The concept of a group, which is at the moment unknown to these women, can slowly be introduced so that they become eligible over a period of time for micro-finance support. These goals can definitely be attained and the two young men, who are so committed, will surely pursue this dream. The women and the children will definitely make this partnership stronger by the day with their involvement towards an altered, brighter, future.
With all Best Wishes,
From: Supriya Ray.