By Satwik Mishra:
When I resigned from a lucrative job to join the SBI Youth For India Fellowship, the sole motive was to find out the meaning to my life. The job, undoubtedly, was providing me sufficient money, yet I wasn’t receiving the satisfaction I was looking for. The wandering soul finally decided to look out for the happiness in the remote corners of India and hence I applied for the fellowship in 2016.
After the orientation of the fellowship program, we were sent to the allocated NGO to carry our journey forward. As I had requested in my application, I got assigned to work for ‘Gram Vikas‘. After settling down at their headquarters in Mohuda, Odisha, we were taken to the different villages for the field visit, in order to get an understanding of what ‘Gram Vikas’ has been doing since its establishment. We explored more than fifty villages where ‘Gram Vikas’ has been working and we were amazed at the sustainability of development in and around. Some projects, which Gram Vikas has been working on, were water supply to each and every house, disaster-resistant house building, primary schools, livelihood, alternate source of energy, 100 % sanitation facilities etc. Simply one can define these villages as ‘Smart Villages’.
Out of four schools which have been started and is being operated by ‘Gram Vikas’, one is Gram Vikas Residential School, Kankia. This school has a strength of 500+ students coming from more than 200 tribal villages of Odisha. Being located in a remote area, 13 km away from the nearest town, this school was a surprise for us. It had a weightlifting center, solar energy supply, solar water filter facility, steam cooking installations, vermi-compost units, a library, computer lab and creativity center. Not only education but all other facilities come for free here. I must say a lot of these facilities are not available in even most of the urban schools. This school particularly interested me a lot and I started visiting it very frequently. During my survey, I came to know a little more than the obvious about the school. I learned of its flaws but soon I realised that I was here to provide with a solution. Critics have not made this world what it is today but the doers.
One fine day in the school, a student named Manoj came up to me and enquired about my graduation stream. After coming to know that I graduated in engineering, he first got excited and then a dull appearance ran all over his face. When I asked for the reason, all he could say was, “I, too, had a dream to become an engineer but later I realised that it’s not my cup of tea.” Later I came to know that two subjects – Science and Mathematics – have become opportunities for goose bumps for the students of this school. The school has allotted extra classes for these subjects however they were not performing at par with expectations. One clear reason which I observed was that the school had no Science practical labs available, where students could learn through experimentation. Strange to me, was the fact that how any science teacher could teach the methodologies and working principles of scientific instruments efficiently, until and unless they have the facilities to demonstrate them? While this school tried its best to stick to the quantity of teaching hours, it missed out the fact that quality matters as well. Quality, when it integrates with quantity, brings out enormous output on an average.
I decided to set up a Science lab in the school. Working for the same, I have already drafted a lab manual while also taking workshops on various softwares. Their eagerness and zeal makes these students learn much faster.
Now, when I tell them that similar softwares and experimentations are being taught in engineering and other science-related studies as well , unlike those dull faces before, I now see hope on their faces. Yes, I have now realised that satisfaction doesn’t come through getting everything we want from the world but from what we give back to it. Happiness is something which increases by sharing. The more you share, the more you get.