Story of selfless dedication, commitment and innovation…

Dr. K. R. Shroff Foundation, Ahmedabad

Story of a dedicated teacher and his pursuit to give facelift a school and its students with his own hard-earned money and natural resources… The Narmada district of Gujarat is blessed with abundant nature and is surrounded by lush greenery, flowing streams and the mountain range of Satpuda. The life here is quite simple and mostly based on agricultural and related industries also the lush nature here owes greatly to the tribal community. Scarcely affected by the outer world, they live a carefree life despite adversities. There is a very dull education scenario here as they are mostly cut off from the outside world. Boys still attend the school but girls are restricted by their parents and even then they mostly don’t study after 8th standard. Educational awareness is a big challenge here and on top of that its demographic condition poses challenges to establish a good school infrastructure. But there comes a visionary called Bharjibhai as a teacher and he is not an ordinary teacher as he doesn’t limit his duties to a teaching job. He lives in Mathasar and works in Pankhala Primary School. The daily commute to work is not an easy thing but after such a gruesome journey, in the evening, you will find Bharjibhai not at his home but Mathasar Primary School campus!

One would assume what he must be doing after school hours. Well, he is busy creating safe and strong infrastructure for the students. Either he is constructing fencing around the school so kids can study without any fear of wild animals. All these he is doing with his own money without expecting any help from villagers. For all the material to build a fence, he scorches nature and rest he procures on his own. He has succeeded in making a beautiful gate and a small shoe rack.

Because… he pledges to make Mathasar Primary School Infrastructure as good as possible… Again one would wonder, why so much effort? A small issue is enough to understand the hardship of this area and the plight of Bharjibhai. To talk to Bharjibhai is a herculean task as due to the loss of signal, he has to go to a nearby mountain to catch the tower range. Second…there is only one teacher for the whole school! As a foundation teacher, he works doubly hard to help the school and endeavors hard not to hamper the study of the kids due to natural adversities and lack of infrastructure.

Riding on two horses, Bharjibhai’s story is quite inspiring. As a local of Mathasar, he was working as a foundation teacher for Mathasar School only. After his wife got a teaching job with Pankhala Primary School it was Bharjibhai’s duty to pick and drop her to such a remote place. His wife was finding it difficult to manage both school and house. So for their convenience, his wife was shifted to Mathasar School while Bharjibhai was shifted to Pankhala School. This change didn’t change the dedication for Bharjibhai. He continued to visit Mathasar School even in the evening. Thanks to his persistent efforts, the school got a water tank. After toiling hard with officials and many visits to GEB Bharjibhai also solved the electricity problem of the school to ensure that kids don’t have to study in the dark. He has promised the village sarpanch to bring one reform every month.

Learning is incessant and so is Bharjibhai with his summer camps even during vacations…

To make the most of their free time in summer, Bharjibhai indulge the students in various creative activities like making plates from big leaves and encourage the kids to enjoy food in their own plate. Teaching is Bharjibhai’s passion. But there is one more passion and concern towards which he is quite active. It is a midday meal in absence of school. During school time students get a midday meal but what about vacations?? For this Bharjibhai summons many philanthropic souls and get the help. The village also comes forward in arranging groceries like rice and potato and he also contributes.

Mathasar School is still primary education only. For those filled with dreams to study further, Bharjibhai comes forward by guiding them as well as arranging admissions in nearby trust and ashram schools. Two girl students from his village are studying at Dediyapada School.

Above all this, he is also dedicated and committed to creating an addiction-free community. For that, every night he will discuss the issue through effective examples and stories. Those addicted to liquor or tobacco, he tries to motivate them towards leaving these habits and live a clean life. He also arranges religious discourse in the village for this purpose. He also convinces parents for education for girl children. In return, he receives quite a flak from the villagers but he is unperturbed by it.

When we asked Bharjibhai, what inspired him towards this noble endeavor…

He says that it is his own story that inspired him to do all these. At a young age, studying and becoming a teacher was a dream that seemed almost impossible due to financial difficulties. But he kept the dream alive and fulfilled it by working hard, doing odd jobs and winning scholarships. After B.Ed. when fellow teachers chose cities for a job, he chose to serve his own village. He knew city schools will have many takers; it is the villages that need help. And thus he decided to dedicate his learning to uplift his own village…so that many other Bharjibhais can live their dream and ambition!