With 100 households, about 40 km from Kamjong district headquarters and 150 km from Imphal with over 100 households is Chatric Kullen Village. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it is witnessing a silent revolution in elderly education. Miraculously, the village along the Indo-Myanmar in Manipur has no positive cases as of yet.
The elderly education project is the tour de force of Sorinthan Soso Haorei, a youth returnee from Delhi due to the pandemic. He is dedicatedly trying to introduce the elderly of the village to the world of literacy. According to the last census, the literacy rate in Manipur stands at 76.94%. However, in many pockets especially the elderly are still unable to read to write. It was this scenario that Sorinthan encountered when he came back to Chatric Kullen during the Covid-19 exodus of last year.
Sorinthan has a hectic schedule but with one purpose: to spread education. His typical day starts with classes for the elders at 6 am following which he teaches at Oasis school, which he had opened in February 2021. Later in the evening, he conducts tutorial classes for high school students.
After he returned from Delhi he found that most of the elders live alone in the village. Their children have moved out once they’re married as is the custom. The loneliness affecting their mental and physical health.
Sorinthan came up with a solution. He opened a school for them to bring them together and in the meantime learn a little as they socialize. Sorinthan first held a meeting where he floated the idea of the ‘school’ encouraging them to actively participate. The village elders also liked the idea and immediately got on board. Describing their enthusiasm Sorinthan said “The class starts at 6 am but they all arrive at 5:30 am. That’s how much they enjoy the class”
The classes were not only about education. It was to benefit them holistically. It was to bring joy to the lonely elders while they learn to read and write.
On asked how he looks into the whole experience Sorinthan said “People here need me more than people there [Delhi]” he says. He still commits over at Delhi, he has prioritized the education of the villagers. Upgrading the education in his village and expanding the same project to the nearby villages is his next step.
His family had initiated the Gemson Haorei Trust in 2019, in memory of his father, Gemson Haorei, to continue with his work. The initiative has become another milestone for the foundation. Sorinthan’s family is also active in contributing to his efforts.
Sorinthan mentioned that there are plans for starting classes for the young and middle-aged couples where they will be given value-based education like family building, parent-children healthy relationships, husband-wife relationships, etc.
By Nikita L Sharma, NET Correspondent Manipur