Youth brings education to tribal hamlet

Adivasi children learning at the Bheem Children Happiness Centre in Neelam Thogu hamlet of Mulugu district.

Adivasi children learning at the Bheem Children Happiness Centre in Neelam Thogu hamlet of Mulugu district.  

OU student was moved by the plight of malnourished and sick children

Lockdown period has helped a student from the Osmania University to envision education and development for children of an Adivasi tribe living in utter deprivation in Mulugu district.

The result is a pre-primary school for children of Gutti Koya tribals, which prepares them for enrolment into regular school. Santhosh Esram is a Cyber Law student from the university, hailing from Narlapur village of Tadwai mandal.

After lockdown was announced, he left the university for his village, and started voluntary work to distribute groceries for the Gutti Koya hamlets buried deep inside the forest.

“I had already been familiar with the tribe and organised a photo exhibition too depicting their lives. With two more friends from an NGO, I took a provisions-laden tractor to four-five hamlets. This particular hamlet Neelam Thogu was nestled at five kilometres distance inside the forest near Bayyakkapet village, to traverse which it took us a whole hour, owing to the sandy terrain and four-five rivulets,” Mr. Esram shared.

Youth brings education to tribal hamlet

Volunteers pitch in

There, what he saw set him thinking. Extremely malnourished children of seven or eight years of age with bodies full of sores moved him to action. With assistance from local volunteers, he started interacting with the 34 Adivasi families about their lives and needs. To gain their confidence, he began bringing in food, and sponsored eggs for children and pregnant women, with funds garnered from university friends and others. He distributed chocolates, biscuits and toys to children.

After gaining enough trust, he broached the topic of setting up a school with the village elder, who in turn showed him a small shack of his which they can use. “We wasted no time in getting the hut repaired, started a school and named it Bheem Children Happiness Centre after B.R. Ambedkar and Kumram Bheem. The children are being taught English, Telugu and Hindi alphabet, and rhymes. So far, we have deployed only local volunteers to teach them, as interaction with us could make them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other infections,” Mr. Esram said.

About 40 children presently attend the school, where they can learn as well as play. Mr. Esram has also interacted with the district forest officials about the tribe’s habit of clearing large tracts of forests, and vowed that he will bring about change in them.

“They clear forests for outsiders, for meagre sums of ₹300 to ₹400. I told them to protect forests instead, and plant them with trees such as Amla and Jamun, which could earn them long term benefits. I am sure they will understand eventually,” he says.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 11:26:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/youth-brings-education-to-tribal-hamlet/article31974034.ece

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