I did my post graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi. I stayed in Ranchi for 3 years way back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. The abject poverty that I saw out there in the tribal area’s still remains etched in my memory. So, when I heard about the Art of Living Foundation’ tribal school projects in that area, I wanted to know a bit more. Here is the email that I received from Mr. Brij Chawla who spearheads the initiative about the story behind the schools.
It was 1993 December when I had
my first encounter with a tribal community living in a village Bhadua in
Ghatsila Block. The first look of the village and the inhabitants convinced me
that either this is not a part of India or we as a society do not own our
responsibility in helping them to lead a life which may have some semblance of
human living. The total apathy towards their own existence (not living) and
unaware about their own potential made me think can we assist them in some way?
Then it was spontaneous reaction
may be because of compassion. There was no plan of action. The seed was sown
and who knows when our sankalpas
start germinating. I kept visiting few more villages and in one of my visit I
was asked by a young tribal boy ama ke ki
dhibi which in English translation means ‘what will you give me’. That
struck me as a bolt. I was clear that what these people need is not charity but
a sense of pride in their own ability and confidence that they are capable of achieving
whatever is required for a honorable living and thus be away from the mercy of
government and some NGOs.
After this visit the action plan
started taking shape in my mind that the basic education is necessary but not
sufficient condition to alleviate their situation. The opportunity came in 1999
when in a chance conversation the tribal subject came up for discussion with
Guruji and because of some knowledge on this subject I was fortunate to be
chosen to coordinate the project.
Three AOL devotes pooled 15 thousand
rupees and started a small school in government built community hall in village
Chhatradanga inhabited by primitive tribe. The beginning was made fifty
children of nearby villages and one local youth, as teacher, ventured on this
long journey of literacy for tribal children. In the following year we had 5
schools in place with about 300 children.
The march continued but with a
shift in the approach. We asked ourselves a question – is literacy is adequate
to tackle the problem of Tribal? It was convincing that literacy is not sufficient
condition to improve conditions of 80 million people. From 3rd year
the approach was to integrate the entire village in terms of hygiene, health,
chemical free farming, income generation, vocational training for children as
well as adults. Also involve the youth (YLTP) to take charge of their villages.
After about 5 years we know the
direction and we are slowly but surely moving towards our goal to bring
awareness in Tribal that he is capable and can take charge of his own destiny.
About 60 villages are being covered by 15 schools having about 1300 children.
We need funds and more volunteers to move forward. The
journey is long the resources are limited but Divine knows how to gets its work
done through the chosen few who are fortunate to be a part of this noble work.
If you wish to contribute towards this initiative and help transform lives, you can do so by either choosing to donate online at careforchildren.org please mention that this donation is for tribal schools in Jharkhand or alternatively you can chose to send a cheque within India to payable to "VVKI-Tribal Welfare" and mail it to Mr Brij Chawla at 164/C/50, Lake Gardens, Kolkata 700 045, India. When you make a donation please don’t forget to drop in a line to Mr. Chawla regarding the donation at his email bbc108(at)yahoo.com