How often do we come across change makers who really want to bring a huge difference in the society? It is pretty evident there are only a few who foresee and get things done.Uttam Teron, an unsung personality from Pamohi, a tribal-dominated village in Guwahati, took upon himself to educate the illiterate and uneducated lot from the village.
There is nothing you cannot achieve when you have oodles of passion for a particular thing. This worked in the case of Uttam Teron. Teaching was his call and henceforth, in the year 2003 he set-up Parijat Academy at a cowshed with a mere sum of Rs 800 and began with the first four children.
Basic education is very important
Speaking to The Logical Indian over the phone call, he recalls how he used to teach those children playfully which would arouse the curiosity in them. He says he asked them to make toys with the help of mud and clay and made the classes enjoyable since he thought he wasn’t a teacher back then and did not have the idea of how Montessori schools worked.
He worked on the foundation of those little kids through songbooks and taught them the basic Hindi, Assamese, and English lexicons within one hour of divided scheduled classes.
In the next three years, 32 more kids joined the academy because parents saw their kids improving at a faster rate. “Basic things are very important for the kids. We can blend the minds in a different way if we teach them playfully,” Uttam says in a hushed tone.
I do what my heart says
Parijat Academy was started with four students. He says he chose the name ‘Parijat’ because the word means a beautiful flower that blooms in heaven and he believes children are like flowers; they can’t comprehend what’s good and bad. And academy was added later on to make the parents feel they were sending their children to an English medium school because that’s what made them elated.
Initially, Uttam had to beseech people for benches, pencils, old bags, and books for the children.Tribal parents are ignorant of their children’s education because they can’t afford even the very basic stationary items, says Uttam in a concerned tone. At first, the parents were very sceptical of sending their kids to the academy but his focus towards teaching the illiterates never turned him down.
Despite all the odds and ups and downs, the hurdles were still there. Uttam’s parents were not supportive. They always had this question as to why their son was doing all this for free. He recalls asking for money from his parents everytime he went to the market. He says he does not like teaching, but he started Parijat Academy because he couldn’t see the children wasting their time lazing around in the fields instead of studying. “I don’t do this for money. I am doing this because my hearts says so.” Uttam says this, sternly.
Experiences that made the intention stronger
It was until 2005 when he met a Japanese tourist on his trip to Bodhgaya and things suddenly revamped. He learnt to send emails and sent the first-ever mail to an organisation asking for second-hand clothes and books for the 32 kids.
“Within a month I received a mail that said that the organisation has already parcelled 105 kgs of books and clothes in the name of Parijat Academy and Rs 32,000 in my name. I never expected this kind of help and it was huge and unbelievable for me and that’s what made my intention stronger. Soon enough, the school uniform was ready for the 32 kids,” Uttam exclaims while talking to The Logical Indian. In the next few days once again an organisation from Singapore donated crayons, drawing sheets, and books for the students.
The same year a photojournalist visited Parijat Academy and within the next few days Uttam was featured in the English daily from Assam that published the story under the headline, “Teron needs help for his 32 children”. People got in touch and started donating and this opened the closed doors for Uttam.
What Parijat Academy is today
The Academy has classes from Nursery to 10th-grade with total 512 indigent children and 20 plus teachers. Sixty students who are from the remotest area of the village where everyone is deprived of even basic requirements; they are given everything for free. The academy provides free accommodation to them because it’s not possible for them to walk all the way up to forty kilometres to attend the classes, shares Uttam. The academy also offers training on computers. There are library facilities, sewing lessons, sports, dance, and much more.
“What’s important for the students is skills,” Uttam says, “we even send our students to Nation youth festivals because that way they will see and learn new things and their mind will broaden.”
Today Sankar Bongjang the Garbhanga village boy has brought happiness to Parijat family. Sankar has got job appointment…
There are regular activities like inter-school girls and boys football and dance activities. Parijat Academy also organises trekking and outings for the students. Girls are taught sewing, ready-made garment making including awareness on menstrual hygiene and sanitation. Uttam’s family now supports him. His wife Aimoni Tumung has always been with him throughout these years of struggle and played a vital role in dusting off illiteracy.
NASA astronaut Michale Fincke visited the academy and lauded the noble and extraordinary work by Uttam Teron and now he’s a part of it. In 2011, Uttam was also awarded the CNN IBN Real Heroes Award for his contribution to society.
“Our greatest challenge until around now has been fundraising because funds from different countries are not enough to sustain. Sometimes we do not pay the teachers for two to three months,” says Uttam. Currently, we are looking out for hundred or fifty potential donors who can donate a sum of thousand rupees per month on a regular basis.
A message to the Logical Indian Readers
“I am no expert in this but I guess we should do what we believe in,”
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