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Amid Covid-19, Odisha’s Koraput girl helps underprivileged children 'bridge' learning gaps

By Our Representative 

As it was almost a year into the school closure, concern among parents emerged as to how their children will be back to education. The situation of Kaliaguda, a remote village of Kundura block in Odisha’s Koraput district was no different as parents and villagers were dwindling over the prolonged school closure and non-availability of alternative learning facilities in their locality.
They were, in fact, desperate to find an alternative solution to this problem as they knew that loss of learning could be devastating for children, especially in their early years.
In this time of crisis, Bhagabati Naik, an 18-year-old girl, served as a ray of hope. Bhagabati always had an inclination towards society and was always keen to do something that impacts on the lives of the children. So, she joined as a volunteer in Mo Chatashalee Centre in her village which is being run by local organization and our ally in Koraput Lok Bikash Mancha with the support of the community.

On way to become a nurse

Bhagabati hails from a poor family. Her father, the only earning member of their family left them when Bhagabati was just attending school. In primary grades. Bhagabati has one elder sister who has already been married and her only brother who is taking up a course on Hotel Management to get a prospective job.
She has been raised in the simplest circumstances where she has to face struggles for her education. In her second year of graduation course, she had to drop out from college as their family members saw no hope of benefit educating her.
Bhagabati says, “In our community, girls are not encouraged to study as they will marry off and their education will be of no use after that. So, I was not supported by my family members and even had to face resistance from our relatives who were pressuring our family members even before I had attained 18 years.”
Bhagabati would do the household work, then read to prove that she can do well too. She wants to be a nurse and help poor people access medical care which most of her communities lack. Citing her example, Bhagabati says my father died as he could not access medical care in time because we could not afford the cost of it. So, I will make sure that my help reaches those who need medical care. That’s where the volunteering zeal of Bhagabati stems.

Volunteer for children's education

Bhagabati has received training on teaching modules on remedial class from the organization and following the modules she has received on remedial class from the organization, and following the same to help children bridge their learning gaps.
On being asked, Bhagabati says, “I have struggled a lot to continue my education being a girl child and therefore I can’t let these children go through the same hurdles. So, I decided to teach them. Volunteering is something close to my dream where I can see myself in the eyes of the children”.
Parents and villagers are all praise her as she is the reason their children are back to education. In Chatashalee, 18 children are receiving remedial education from her for two to three hours every day and this is helping them to improve their learning level.
Bhagabati is a hope among the children, who were almost detached from their books are now back to their learning. Villagers say, the passion that she puts behind the work is truly inspiring. 
“The government should also start a similar set up especially in remote areas so that children from poor families can be back to learning", says Sumitra Bhumia, a parent of the village, who has been sending her two children to Mo Chatashalee regularly.

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