My struggle as an educationist Part 2
You must read my blog Part 1 before you read Part 2
As an education activist/volunteer, we were expected to visit the rehabilitation camp in the rural area. After an action packed week the volunteers were looking forward to a relaxed Sunday. The unexpected news of the visit dampened our spirits. But duty comes first, so Sunday morning 10 volunteers (5 women and 5men, including me) reached the camp around 9.a.m.
In the camp we were notified that there were about 80 children, in varying age groups, all rescued child laborers, being streamlined to regular schooling.
The older children were undergoing bridge course, learning words first then moving on to identifying the letters.
The younger ones were under the care of volunteer resident teachers. These teachers also played the role of a mother. One mother was in charge of 5 children.
They learnt their lessons through play way method. They were all happy to be there. All smiling and learning and we were happy to see them thus. We shared lunch together, played together, clicked photos together.
During lunch as we squatted in a row and ate with the inmates, while the resident teachers happily served us, I noticed a teenaged girl in my opposite row eating silently with downcast eyes. I sensed something amiss. Later when I approached her in the dormitory she broke into uncontrollable tears. Other girls gathered in the dormitory and said she has been weeping, since her arrival two days ago. She has spoken to none, and nobody knew as why she cried.
Her name is Saritha. She was 14, a tall, fair complexioned, thin malnourished girl. She had an oval face and waist length long brown hair. Had she been in a well to do surroundings, she would have looked a stunner for sure.
I was moved by her tears and gently coaxed her and took her into my confidence.
The story she narrated to us was heart breaking. She said that she was the fourth wife of a forty year old shepherd. Due to poverty her parents had married her off to him. After marriage he had asked her to tend the cattle. When she refused he whipped her blue black. His atrocities continued day in and day out and she bore it silently, for she had no where to go. No, she cannot return to her parent’s house because once married, Indian wife was destined to spend her life with her husband, unless widowed or divorced. One day he took her to the woods, after a nasty argument, he beat her up and tied her to a tree and left her to die there.
She was left to the mercy of wild animals and creepers. For two days she stood their craving for a drop of water; victim of man and fate.
On the third day she was traced by a shepherd dog, and a good Samaritan rescued her and handed her over to the MVF volunteers. She was hospitalized and nursed well before she was rehabilitated at the camp.
Her story brought us together in grief, we shared her agony. The girls gathered around her and hugged her extending a hand of friendship. At last she smiled a faint smile and for us it was like morning sunshine.
I had no gift to give her at that time. All I had was my precious favorite black pen. I gave it to her and said, ‘This is a weapon, use it well’. I also gave her some money. We communicated non verbally. I know she understood me.
Later I heard she had adjusted well and was learning fast. I am glad she made good use of the pen and the support the volunteers gave her. May god bless her in abundance!
Causes Sumathi Mohan Supports
Child education, eradication of child labour and child marriages, promotion of education in slum areas. free thinking. MV Foundation, Hyderabad. CRY.