A Village Lightened
A village in Kurigram is enjoying free electricity solar panel, making life much easier and comfortable. People of all walks of life are benefiting from this initiative. This environmentally friendly use of electricity has increased the education standard of the village as well as productivity.
The mobile phone company Robi is supplying free electricity through solar panel to houses of the Kaluar Char village of the Chhinai union under Rajarhat upazila of the district. The solar electricity is creating a studious environment for students there.
More than a thousand people of the village are being benefitted with solar electric lights. Now they can carry out their work during the night too. Students are able to study at night under electric (solar) lights which are a very environmentally friendly alternative to traditional kerosene lamps.
The village of Kaluar Char is located 18 kilometers from the town of Kurigram and resides next to the Dharla River. The villagers were deprived from various facilities including electricity.
The Robir Alo project under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has set up a mega grid solar panel of 1.75 kilo-watts near the Kaluar Char mosque in the Kaluar Char village sometime in February 2012. The solar electricity is being supplied to 150 poor families since the 3rd of February. They were given all the support for this to happen, including electric hardware, bulbs, switches and switch boards.
A beneficiary, Omar Ali said Robir Alo has brought comfort to his family work apart from just saving kerosene oil. Power of the solar light is much more than filament lights and kerosene-lamps. “My children can study without putting strain on their eyes during the night.
Headmaster of Kaluar Char Registered Primary School Sree Shukesh Chandra said, “There are 260 students in the primary school out of which only 40% of the families of our students have been kept out of the solar facility. They - day-labourers, live in the char (shoal) area. 95% of the villagers do not know write their names. Before receiving solar light, the students (beneficiaries) went to bed after sunset. Now the students study with enthusiasm thanks to the solar lights. The quality of students in regard to their education is improving day by day causing more of them to study”.
“About 450 families live in the Kaluar Char. This is a good initiative for the poor people. However, it has insufficient coordination, it (lighting facility) should be increased considering their social and economic condition”, said the headmaster.
“Each class-period lasts 35 minutes, we teach the students but the duration is insufficient for decent learning atmosphere. Their parents cannot help them as they are uneducated. We would have a better result if some person or organization would arrange for extra care for them”, said the headmaster.
Vice-president of the CSR of Robir Alo project (in Dhaka) Md. Mohiuddin Babor said “now we have given lighting facility to 150 families of the Kaluar Char in the first phase. The second phase involves increasing the solar power and extending it to 400 more families within the next three months. We have more plans to provide the poor farmers with solar power during the third phase,” concluded the vice-president.
A Challenged Dream
Physically challenged boy, Monjum Ali, wants to establish himself through studying. He enjoys dreaming that one day, he will be educated to do something for the betterment of society,
S Dilip Roy
His parents advised him to beg for money, the only way he can get any money, to support the family, but Monjum Ali angrily replied saying “I will never beg”. As Monjum didn't get any support for his education, he left his parents house and took shelter at his maternal uncle's house, solely for the purpose of studying.
Monjum was a 3rd grade student of Boraibari MS Registered Non-government primary school at his native Boraibari village of Polashi union under Aditmari upazila in Lalmonirhat. He is now a student of grade 1 at the North Bengal Disabled School in Lalmonirhat town.
“I moved to my maternal uncle's house sometime in March this year. I left my parents since they asked me to do nothing but beg for a living. I didn't respond to them, as I want to study.” said Monjum.
He went on to say,” My father, Ayub Ali, told me that I'm disabled so I can't help them. He is not interested in educating me. As little as my father earns, I believe that he is capable of supporting my education. I was heartbroken when my parents tried to pressure me into begging, I never liked it.”
Monjum has five siblings. His eldest sister, Parvina Begum is married. Another sister, Parul Akhter, is a student of grade 6, his younger brother Ariful Islam is a student of grade 3 and his youngest sister Afroza Akhter is a student of grade 1. He also has a baby brother.
Monjum's parents, Ayub Ali and Anjuma Begum, have only 3 bigha (measurement of land) land. They cultivate their land and sometimes, they go out to work at other people's farm in the village.
Monjum's father says that he stopped Monjum's education in December 2011 when he was student of grade 3 at the local school. He goes on to say that his son is physically disabled and cannot move properly, so he doesn't need education.
“I am a poor farmer who earns just enough to satisfy my family's needs, you can say that we depend completely on a hand to mouth system. I can't provide support for Monjum education. So I told him to stay at home, or to go out and get help from the kind hearted people in the village, but I didn't directly tell him to beg them” he said.
Monjum's mother Anjuma Begum said,” Our son is a burden to the family. He can't talk properly and can't help with any work. He wants to be educated, but we told him he didn't need to be because of his disability.”
Monjum's maternal uncle Hossain Ali is a rickshaw puller from the village of North Saptana in Lalmonirhat municipality. He has no land of his own and depends entirely on pulling rickshaws in town.
“I took my nephew Monjum into my home in March this year and I admitted him at the North Bengal Disabled School in town. My nephew's parents pressured him into begging without helping get the education he wanted. Monjum is full of ambition and wants to become a highly educated person in society. I have been helping him as much as I can,” said Hossain Ali.
Hossain Ali's wife, Hasina Begum says that Monjum keeps himself busy all the time, studying at home. Sometimes he is seen crying alone, thinking about his life. He gets help with his bath, putting on his clothes and eating. He can write, but at a very slow pace.
Monjum says that he doesn't know how long he will get help from his maternal uncle.
“I'd rather die than beg. I will try my level best to make my dream come true by studying. I must commute with my parents, and ask them to bear little expense for my education,” said Monjum.
His classmate, Ashraful Islam said,” Monjum is one of our best friends. He is good in his studies and is always attentive in class. All the students love him and try to help his as much as they can.”
Monjum's class teacher Lipy Begum says, “He is a good student and is always well prepared in his subjects. He comes from a poor family, but he always has a smile on his face, a smile that lights up the entire class. Another teacher, Forida Begum, had this to say, “Monjum has big goals and dreams in life. He is trying very hard to reach his goal with the help of the kind hearted people.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2012