A group of students from various tribal hamlets in and around Nilambur had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they took out an excursion to the Calicut airport and Kozhikode city on Friday. The 130 tribal students from 26 hamlets spread between Edakkara and Karuvarakkundu were on cloud nine as they watched in awe flights land and take off at the airport.
Most of them saw the airport for the first time and experienced the joy of watching flights take off and land. Their joy doubled when they landed at the Kozhikode beach after an awesome experience at the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium in the city.
Thanks to Jan Sikshan Sansthan (JSS) headed by its chairman P.V. Abdul Wahab, MP, most tribal students had their first beach experience in life. Mr. Wahab flagged off their picnic at GUP School, Chandakkunnu, where they had their breakfast. Most of them ate ‘noolputtu’ and ‘appam’ for the first time in life as most tribal communities, particularly the Kattunaikar, Paniyar and Alar tribes, do not have the habit of eating in the morning.
The airport authorities led by Sunitha Varghese warmly welcomed the students who arrived in three buses, and offered them cool drinks and milk peda. Mr. Wahab too accompanied them to the airport and took them around.
From the visitors’ gallery they watched a couple of flights land and take off as Ms. Sunitha and team explained to them the working of the airport.
“You could see the airport and flights now. I will take you on a flight if you win A-plus in all subjects,” said Mr. Wahab, offering them one of the biggest motivations of their life.
No sooner had the MP completed his sentence than a girl raised her hand and said: “Sir, are you serious? Then I am ready to take up this challenge.” The firm words of Gopika N. from Nallanthanni tribal hamlet in Nilambur municipality had an infectious effect among her friends as some of them whispered to themselves that they would get full A-plus for higher secondary.
Representing the students, Gothramruthu Society president K. Surendran requested the airport authorities for a stall to sell their tribal products of genuine quality. The airport officials replied that they would consider the request.
A.P. Anil Kumar, MLA, too joined the tribal children at the airport with a set of gifts from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, MP. The gifts comprised a laptop bag, an umbrella, and a T-shirt for all of them.
It was a jaw-dropping experience for the children at the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium, Kozhikode. The 3D show kindled not only excitement but many questions too from them. Curator-cum-project coordinator Binoy Kumar Dubey and officer K. Suresh Kumar appeared too happy to answer their questions.
Mr. Dubey offered them a counter to sell the Gothramruthu products at the planetarium. He offered them toy gifts too.
Soon they were at their jolly best when they landed at the beach, where they played football. They spent the evening at the beach and sang songs and danced to the rhythm of tribal music.
V. Ummer Koya, JSS director who accompanied the children, said that it was an enriching experience for him as well. “I have never seen them so happy. It was such a rewarding experience for us all,” he said.
A dinner offered to them by Mr. Wahab at his house was an icing on the cake for the tribal children. They treated Mr. Wahab and his family too with their songs and dance.