When adversities don’t stop the spirit of learning…

Jiva Chenva, Foundation Teacher, Vadali, Gujarat

I was an education coordinator and life class conservator at Panol Primary School, Sabarkantha in the first semester. One day as the third-grade class teacher was on leave, I went to take the class. I received a cheerful welcome from the students except for one girl who was sitting quietly as if her smile was not coming from the heart. In the second semester, I was replaced by Varshaben Patel and felt the same way. She discussed her observation with me. The girl was Aarti and I finally met her in the school in the presence of Varshaben. Aarti was average in studies and her financial condition was very poor. But after listening to her hardship, I felt that she was god’s precious gift to her parents. Can you imagine an 8-year-old girl taking care of the entire family? She was doing it in the absence of a father who is no more and a mother who left her and her siblings. Aarti was living with her siblings and grandmother. I couldn’t muster the courage to hear more. I talked with other teachers about her and got better clarity about her situation. According to them, Aarti didn’t attend the school in 2nd grade as she had to take care of her younger siblings and blind grandmother. From smallest to biggest household work she was carrying on her petite young shoulders. But still, now she loves to come to school because class teacher Niruben is so compassionate towards all the students. She gets to learn new things, meet and play with her friends...it feels like school is a silver lining in her otherwise dull life.

This incident made me think about the responsibilities girl child bear from a young age. For them, it has always been living on an edge. I bow to Aarti. We as teachers try our best to relieve her hardship by fulfilling her needs, sometimes giving her extra mid-day meals and more. But that isn’t enough. I just wish if there is some Good Samaritan, who come forward and ensure a happy childhood for Aarti.