Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
A cremation ground in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar district has turned into a unique pathshala for dropouts and for the students who cannot afford online education amid the on-going pandemic.
The school that started with three children in December last year now accommodates as many as 100 students. The initiative was started by Manish Tiwari, Assistant Professor of English Communication and a group of volunteers from Nariyawali Naka Muktidham, The New Indian Express reported.
A local automobile showroom owner and a few others, including Sagar Municipal Commissioner RP Ahirwar, came together and made donations to build the Pathshala. The school is currently running under the banner 'Mission Muktidham'.
Tiwari, an environmental activist, had visited the cremation ground last year to plant the saplings on the premises when he encountered the boys.
"When we were planting the saplings there, we saw three boys, picking up coins and makhana (fox nuts) near the bodies lined up for cremation. The three informed us they used the small "booty" as well as the remains of burnt wood from pyres for their families. They also utilised big bamboo sticks used to carry the bodies to the Muktidham for playing a local form of hockey," he said.
"We encouraged them to become the first three students of our Mission Muktidham. When the residents of adjoining slums saw us teaching during the COVID peak, they also started sending their kids to the open-air school," he explained.
Eight teachers spend at least three hours a day on weekdays at the cremation ground and teach various subjects, including English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Mathematics and Science. On Sundays, special five-hour sessions on yoga, aerobics and bhangra classes are also organised.
"In the absence of this Pathshala, our kids too would have gone into gambling or ended up arranging funeral pyres or digging up graves. It has kindled hope among these kids; they too think they would become teachers, doctors, engineers and even pilots," said one of the parents residing in a nearby slum.
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