In the sayings of an old wise men, “Dreams and hope have wings” but life itself is a paradox where a hope stays as a hope forever, where dreams bring no results. In this world where the countries run the race to build the tallest building in the world, where the countries fight to be the superpower, where the status of a person is defined by the value of properties he/she owns, where development walks faster than the light, the world seems to be healed from poverty, discrimination, inequality, uncertainty, unfairness, etc.
As the world becomes the global village, the ideals about living has surpassed the stage of ‘basic needs’ which move to the stage of multiplicity in the choice of living. In fact, to the stage where the term “Human wants are unlimited” coined by economists have become a universal truth. So, this is our very advanced world. Where development grows faster than the trees, a mix blessing for it makes the living much simpler yet give much sufferings while chasing for that easier and simpler livings. But if the world has truly been healed, I may not have been here, the Teach For North East would not have been necessary to exist, in this other side of the world where the trees grow faster than the development, where hopes and dreams both die young.
I have seen the other side of the world, I have seen the other reality, I have seen the lives, I have seen the other half of the pillars of our nation, all young and lost. Nevertheless, coming from a family where patriotism and education played a vital role in my upbringing, as I stay in the midst of these beautiful mountains, seeing the innocence of these children and their willingness to give birth to a new hope and dreams has convinced me that I didn’t take the wrong decision.
The first month of my stay here gave me an emotional turmoil as I saw hopes, dreams, wishes and the reality of all. With the serious approach of TFNE and my wish to bring quality and equity education in the region, I started from small. Three months have passed in the blink of an eye, with the hospitality of the people and their full support in anything we purposed to do, life indeed turned out to be in the full swing but if I say that we didn’t encounter any struggles and difficulties being in the ground for the first time, I would be wrong nevertheless at the end of the day seeing the performance of my students over these short period of time, I could sense that possibilities and positivity are approaching towards us. However, just like how it is not possible to hold all the grains with one hand, some bring us problems, trying to escape to something they have been wrongly engaged to that led us to shift our normal conversations to the discussions on how to bring them back into the right path.
In my first meeting with the students, some of the experiencesgave me a shock as I felt like a saviour in their eyes, helping them out in almost everything with regards to their studies. The amount of interventions and supports needed by those children looked enormous and almost impossible but on the other side, their willingness to learn and re-learn wasn’t measurable and we were not afraid of being tired in teaching them one by one. Some, to my surprise, helped us by being able to catch up with the flow without much of our help unlike our expectations. In that very moment I could see the various possibilities, their future so bright and so very successful but to be honest, I couldn’t see how far it will be after knowing the lack of development in the region.
In one of the villages that we went to conduct learning level assessment, we met three little boys in their mischievous age of around 7-8 years old, all belong to an incomplete family who ended our day with joy and laughter. We became friends in a minute and soon started to share one’s thoughts and feelings. When asked, one with round face, the tallest among three of them admired one of my friends. One little thin, so coy but courageously expressed his feelings for my other friend and the last, the smallest, very lean and untidy in a very loving child manner with a dimple-on his cheeks and his eyes that knows no worries said that he would like to marry me after he completed class 12. All of them shared their dreams and aims which sounds so fascinating that it took them direct to the life after it.
Leaving jokes aside, after learning their family background, I silently wished and blessed those boys to achieved more and to see them again, perhaps in a better situation. That 3 hours long drive on a dry and dusty road with the dust trying to be over friendly with us was no more my concern as I was thinking about what I could do for those little boys who have stored enough energy to excel in their later years. Children from different kinds of background, some from a broken or an incomplete family, some in the wrong path, some without a guide, some with no hope, some without any dreams and all of them, the pillars of tomorrow.
As we came back home at dusk, tired and emotional after meeting them, we went on to make plans on how to help children who are brought up by a financially-unsound single parents. The dinner of that night was quite longer than the usual as we were discussing about the various faces of this world, inequality in development, importance of education, negligence from the higher authorities, the role of a society, and we are like a fisherman trying to drain the vast ocean. In order for the child to become a responsible citizen, education is much needed as it is not only about being literate but even wider than that. To do so, society must be well educated in order to educate the child. Besides, the consequences or the effect of an inequal distribution of a nation’s resources on the knowledge level of the children is something not to be ignored. Having said that, these are something that cannot be achieved overnight but the serious intervention of the higher authorities is very much necessary and our polluted society is needed to be cleaned to give free and fair way for the children to become a potential human resource one day. So, on the verge of this messed up world, I wonder if my little contribution will bring a difference and if so, to what extent.
Discussions went on and on without much conclusion till we realized that we had piles of assignments to correct. Then I grabbed the first copy, not so energetic and to my surprise, it was the notebook of a student who has been giving us few troubles lately. All the answers with no mistake! Almost everything was coming to its place, many have been done (at least to our concise). After much arrangement, online classes soon began with students less than half being able to access to the internet and we checked on every student and made every possible arrangement so that none of them will be left out. Among them, there was one student who was not regular for the online class hence, we called up the mother of that student to enquire and the reason she told us as to why her child was irregular left me with no words but to just listen to her with my eyes filling up soon. The struggles my student goes through to search for network all over the nearby places just to attend a class of 40 minutes in every cold winter morning from a very far-off village.
Despite the thousand barriers which kill new hopes, dreams and aspirations in which they have survived, I could still see a glimpse of powerful hopes through the cracks of those barriers in each child I ever encountered.
Bidya Khumanthem – About Teach For North-East (TFNE)