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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Good Samaritan of Barauni ~ where Railway platform is school room

‘Samaritan’ – means a charitable or helpful person. Of all the wealth, Education is seen as the biggest and providing knowledge to others is considered as the greatest virtue.  In the words of Thiruvalluvar -
தாமின் புறுவ(து) உலகின் புறக்கண்டு
காமுறுவர் கற்றறிந் தார்.

தாம் இன்புறுவதற்குக் காரணமான கல்வியால் உலகமும் இன்புறுவதைக் கண்டு, கற்றறிந்த அறிஞர் மேன்மேலும் (அக் கல்வியையே) விரும்புவர்.  The learned will yearn for more learning as Education [learning] would give more pleasure to themselves and the World also derives pleasure from it. 

Barauni refinery is one of the biggest oil refineries of the Country.  Built with Russian collaboration in 1964, it  is managed by Indian Oil Corporation. y's at Barauni in Bihar State. It is in Begusarai District, one of the thirty-eight districts of Bihar state, otherwise considered to be backward. This is about a young man with a a mission to educate orphan children who are spending their lives on a railway station in the state, in a bid to wean them away from the world of drugs and crime.  This was widely reported in media in April 2013 and is worth reading again. 

Barauni was once an Industrial town; it is situated at the bank of the holy  Ganges; connected by a Railway-cum-Road bridge  connecting North Bihar and South Bihar known as Rajendra Setu officially but as Mokama bridge in common parlance. Barauni Junction is one of the important stations in Bihar. It is the gateway to North Eastern India as it connects the North-East States with the rest of the country. The good Samaritan in his jest to impart education, runs the classes on Bihar railway platform.

The photo that you saw at the start is - Ajit Kumar with his wife Shabnam Prabhakar, a teacher at a government middle school at Barauni in Begusarai district.  This young man from Bihar is on a mission to educate orphan children, who are spending their lives on a railway station in the state, in a bid to wean them away from the world of drugs and crime. Ajit Kumar, a teacher at a government middle school at Barauni in Begusarai district, has converted a shed on a secluded platform of Barauni Junction, located 100 km away from Patna, into a makeshift school to teach 30 children.

All his students are rag-pickers who eke out their livelihood by cleaning bogies and selling gutkhas and other goods on trains. "I am trying to educate the children to help them lead a life of dignity in future," he said.  "Majority of them are drug addicts and can join the world of crime if nothing is done to educate them. So far, 30 children have voluntarily enrolled in my class," Ajit added.  A resident of Shokhara village under Phulwaria police station, Ajit gets help from his wife Shabnam Prabhakar in his endeavour.

Ajit holds his class with single-minded devotion from 7 am to 8.45 am every day. He teaches language and mathematics at the school. "After attending the classes, the children, all in the age group of five to 14, disperse for their daily chores," he said.  "Some support themselves by sweeping train compartments while others work as hawkers. But all of them make it a point to join my makeshift school every morning," he added.

Ajit said he talked to the local railways authorities about his plans and got their verbal permission to start the school.  "I get a salary of Rs 6,000 per month as a teacher but it is my mission to educate them and help them join the mainstream," he said. Ajit, who has written to several state government and railway officials for help in his endeavour, said that he had received a lot of moral support from the local people in his home town.

"Many people, including education department officials, have come to see my class and patted me. Many of them have promised help in my mission," he said.

Indeed a great gesture – an ordinary man with a meager income, doing noble service with no expectation of recompense – Great indeed.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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