Over the years, many students have been forced to stop going to school in India due to the lack of a proper transport facility. Sumitra, a 10th grade pupil living in Bordi, a coastal village in western India had to stop going to school because of her father’s paralysis. She had to be home taking care of her father.
A humble bicycle that she received as a gift, renewed her dream of becoming a doctor. “When I got my new bicycle, it felt really good. I was really happy. Earlier, it took a long time to reach school, because I had to walk. Bicycle saves me a lot of time,” says Sumitra.
Her benefactor, Dr Suwas Darvekar, knows what it feels like to be not being able to go to school.
Giving back the kindness
Dr Suwas Darvekar was brought up in a slum. He used to often miss school as he could not afford the bus fees.
“The biggest issue was going from the house to the school,” says Dr Suwas. “A lot of people in the slum helped me with the bus fee to reach school. And that is how I could complete my studies.”
To give back the kindness he received when he was going to school, an avid cyclist took it upon himself to ensure the children do not miss out on school because of transport issues. Dr Suwas says, “One of the biggest transforming factors in a kid’s life is education…but how to get the students to the school was a challenge. People are hard-pressed for even a few rupees. They cannot afford the bus fee or the rickshaw fee.”
He realised that many students had to walk 10 kms, sometimes barefoot to reach their schools. This results in many of them dropping out. Dr Suwas did not have to look further than his own home for the solution – a low-cost, environmentally friendly bicycle.
Through the Sangeeta Darvekar Charitable Trust adn with the help of friends and donors, Dr Suwas has empowered hundreds of tribal children in Palghar district with their own two-wheelers.
Says Asha Vartak, the principal of SPH School, “Dr Suwas told the children to come to school… Their attendance is 100 per cent.” She adds, “Even a humble cycle can teach us a lot. And we learned this through Dr (Suwas).”
Donor and volunteer Dr Dharmaji Shinde says, “If I can take one student, who was going to drop out from school, to college level, not only one child, one family is uplifted.”
For Sumitra, a bicycle is a dream come trues, as it would ensure a better life for both her and her family.
“No one in my family has even been to school. That’s why I want to study. So we don’t have to live in poverty anymore,” she says. “With my education, I could achieve something in life.”
“Come what may, I won’t leave school.”
The Logical Indian applauds the efforts taken by Dr Suwas to ensure that no child misses out on school because of transportation issue. He has found an easy and eco-friendly solution to the problem. We hope more people get inspired by his story.