An initiative by Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith Purulia, 1985 Batch

The first time that Ludhu Sabar really smiled, it really really hurt his jaw...

Because Ludhu Sabar had spent the six years of his life knowing hunger, grief and anger - but never a reason to smile. He'd never known joy. Sometimes he had dreams. Of wonderful things like a lot of food, and clothes that could cover all his body. Yes. What we never, even in our wildest dreams, think of doing without, had been the stuff of dreams for Orao and the other children of his village.

But that was before Arup Mukherjee came along!

Today Ludhu is one of the forty seven children of Shabar village who goes to a beautiful place everyday: Puncha Nabadisha Model School.

People like Arup Mukherjee and Mamoni have done the impossible. They have brought food, clothes, and the most important thing – education – to places where even a full plate rice is a rare luxury: remote barren stretches of Purulia.

You visit any of these schools and your heart aches to be a part of their efforts. They had the same effect on us – a handful of students of Purulia Ramakrishna Mission, 1985 batch. And we've realised that any little help means a lot to these children. Children who grow up without ever knowing how to smile...

The story of Puncha Nabadisha Model School : Arup Mukherjee, Founder Secretary

Right from my childhood, whenever there was any theft in the locality, my grandfather would blame the 'Shabars'. The word Shabar literally meant petty criminals. When I asked him why at all were the Shabars like that, he said it was because of hunger and illiteracy. It was then that the willingness to do something good for this tribe struck its root in me.

In 1999 I became a constable in Kolkata police. Then onwards, whenever I could, I used to go to their village with whatever little I could manage in the way of food, clothes and books. But I wanted to do more, much more. So I decided to build a school for their children. Thus in 2010, on a piece of land donated by Nirod Shola Mukherjee of Puncha, and a loan of one lakh fifty thousand rupees that I had managed to get on the pretext of my mother's treatment, the work began. And in 2011, my school was born!

The school had started with fifteen children and a basic structure. I'd struggle to feed them and run the school from my salary only. Today the school has forty seven children. A beautiful thing has also happened - help has begun to trickle in. I've been able to build four more classrooms, give better food and clothes to the children, and most importantly a dream of a better life for them...

The story of Bartar Saadamoni Mission : Mamoni, Founder Secretary

On a cold bleak December of 2001, in a small mud hut, our journey began. With four children, the youngest of whom was just five year old. Their parents would save a handful of rice every day and give the stock to me at the beginning of a month and,, very sporadically, whatever little vegetables and fish that they could manage. But I needed money for their books and medicine. So I began to give private tuition to local children.

My reputation as a private tutor grew and I began to get more and more such students. That money would fund the running of my school. But the other private tutors of the area resented the erosion of their students to me. To evict me, they started a gambling den right before my school till I confronted them and forced them to move away. But this incident made me take up weapons training; I became adept in archery, tangee and spear. Subsequently many a times my arrows saved local villagers from snatchers and robbers.

It was then that the villagers began to really trust me and send their children to my school. The fees then was twenty rupees and a tin of rice. And slowly my school began to take shape. Today, what had been a broken hut with molehills and scorpions, is a concrete building with four hundred and fifty three students, and sixteen teachers.

Today we have come a long way from the time when food and medicines were our burning needs. Today I dream of facilities and amenities to students at par with the other good schools. I dare to dream of dresses, diets, physical education and more for my children. I dream of a tomorrow where every child will have access to the best of basic education...

Jaydip Ganguly Written on September 14, 2016

Corporate Communicator, Shyam Steel