100 ml tel aur thodi si sharab

Children in this distant village in Odisha manage to open their books even after sunset. Most kids in cities do so, for one reason- complete some ‘homework’. They are able to do so because their is abundant light, of a CFL or regular tubelights/bulbs. The children i came across in this village neither had homework to finish nor any light that they could make use of. So, it is all the more surprising that they sit down and read and solve math problems at night.

The children have been attending pre/post school classes that help them to bridge learning deficits that are common at their age. The classes have also filled a void, rather a thirst, of knowing more, comprehending the world and doing things they have never done before. Perhaps that is the reason these kids attend the ‘extra’ class, then go to their school and get back to books once the day says good night.

Reading books at night wasn’t really possible for them, till some months back. Now the villagers manage to light a few lamps and help their children spend some quality time with books. These lamps are not lit by oil alone, it is the ability of women and men to believe ‘that there is something  in them superior to their circumstances’. Some village women started a donation drive where 100 millilitre kerosene was collected form each house and the contributions have not been an one-ff event. They also realized that such small contributions can make a significant difference for each child and the next target was liquor. The logic was simple- if the village men can give up liquor, even for2-3 days in a week, they can save sizeable amount of money that can be routed to lamps and more oil.

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