This 17 Year Old Bridged The Dreams, Kids Don’t Have To Walk Through Sewage To Get To School Anymore

The Logical Indian Maharashtra

September 25th, 2015 / 9:40 PM

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Image Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror , Thumbnail: NDTV

 

This story is a part of the ongoing Mumbai Heroes initiative by Mumbai Mirror. If you know someone who is in Mumbai and is rendering remarkable services to the society, nominate  him/her by sending us their stories at [email protected]

 

By constructing a bridge across a fetid nullah, 17-year-old Eshan Balbale helped the children of Sathe Nagar gain unfettered access to school. He now aims to build toilets in the same locality.

Until last month, the children of Sathe Nagar had to wade through a foul-smelling nullah in order to get to school.They had gotten used to their plight. Moved by these woeful conditions, 17-year-old-student Eshan Balbale built a bamboo bridge connecting either sides of the nullah.

The four-foot wide and 100foot long bridge took eight days to complete -an initiative, which politicians and the corporation failed to address for years, despite several complaints from locals.

When the teenager visited the area to get a better understanding of the problem in August, the residents opened up about their troubles. “They explained that crossing the nullah came with risks such as skin infections, malaria, dengue and other diseases. I felt terrible when I saw the children wade through the disgusting sludge,” he says.

A few residents had even lost their lives while crossing the nullah when water levels rose during heavy showers.

During his interactions, Balbale realised that parents were even reluctant to send their children to school. They didn’t want them to cross the nullah. Other factors, such as having to walk 1.5 km to reach the school and the unavailability of autos, were contributing to a high dropout rate.In addition to this, about 15,000 residents had to cross the rancid nullah to get to the market, Kurla and Mankhurd railway stations.

Balbale saw that a bridge was the need of the hour. “But I realised that building a concrete bridge would require permission from the BMC and that can be time consuming. So I chose to build the bridge with bamboo, which is light yet sturdy. The children needed the bridge immediately as the water level rises during the monsoon season,” he says. The bridge, which can carry up to 50 people at a time, was inaugurated on August 29 and connects Sathe Nagar to the PGMP colony.

Two months ago, Balbale set up the NGO Nirbhay Yuva Pratishthan, where he encourages other youngsters to participate in similar philanthropic ventures.”My parents are very supportive of my interest and help me by providing financial aid,” says the Class XII commerce student of Thane’s Bedekar College.Although he is interested in pursuing higher studies in aviation, Balbale wants to continue balancing his studies with his work at the NGO.

The young altruist will maintain the bridge until a more permanent solution is implemented by the authorities. “I plan to visit the site at least once a month. If the bridge is used responsibly, it should easily last for a couple of years. In the meantime, I will repair the bridge as and when the need arises,” he promises.

Balbale is now looking to improve sanitation conditions in the area by building eight to 10 toilets in the area for which, he will seek permission from the ward office. “The residents say that the BMC is reluctant to construct toilets, since there are illegal residents. But they are humans and deserve basic sanitation facilities like the rest of us,” he says.

A deeply mature Balbale explains that an urge to help those who cannot avail amenities that were accessible to him keeps him motivated. “Ever since I was in Class VIII, I would see my parents help other people and I made it a point to donate my clothes, school bags and books to our domestic help and her children. I like to understand the problems people have and help them accordingly. It is a learning experience for me,” he concludes.

 

This story is a part of the ongoing Mumbai Heroes initiative by Mumbai Mirror. If you know someone who is in Mumbai and is rendering remarkable services to the society, nominate  him/her by sending us their stories at [email protected]

 

 

 

INITIATIVE
Building a bamboo bridge for school children in Sathe Nagar

THE HERO
Eshan Balbale

NOMINATED FOR
Providing an alternative route for school children who had to trudge through sludge in order to get to school

GETS MY VOTE
The bridge has had an impact as absenteeism among students from the area has reduced.
Sulabha Sitaram Kadam,
Principal of Shri Sai Vidyalaya, PMGP colony

Mumbai Mirror marks its tenth anniversary by celebrating this city’s heroes. The men, women and institutions featured here have made it to our honor roll for their exemplary acts of courage, as well as those simple yet profound expressions of humanity that have changed this city for the better. These pages will tell their stories, and announce those shortlisted for special recognition, as determined by our jury and readers.


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