A young man in Bihar is on a mission to educate orphan children, who are spending their lives on a railway station in the state, in a bid to wean them away from the world of drugs and crime.
Ajit Kumar, a teacher at a government middle school at Barauni in Begusarai district, has converted a shed on a secluded platform of Barauni Junction, located 100 km away from Patna, into a makeshift school to teach 30 children.
All his students are rag-pickers who eke out their livelihood by cleaning bogies and selling gutkhas and other goods on trains.
“I am trying to educate the children to help them lead a life of dignity in future,” he said.
“Majority of them are drug addicts and can join the world of crime if nothing is done to educate them. So far, 30 children have voluntarily enrolled in my class,” Ajit added.
A resident of Shokhara village under Phulwaria police station, Ajit gets help from his wife Shabnam Prabhakar in his endeavour.
Ajit holds his class with single-minded devotion from 7 am to 8.45 am every day.
“After attending the classes, the children, all in the age group of five to 14, disperse for their daily chores,” he said.
“Some support themselves by sweeping train compartments while others work as hawkers. But all of them make it a point to join my makeshift school every morning,” he added.
Ajit said he talked to the local railways authorities about his plans and got their verbal permission to start the school.
The young teacher also said he had purchased the stationery for his students from his resources.
“I get a salary of Rs 6,000 per month as a teacher but it is my mission to educate them and help them join the mainstream,” he said.
Ajit, who has written to several state government and railway officials for help in his endeavour, said that he had received a lot of moral support from the local people in his home town.
“Many people, including education department officials, have come to see my class and patted me. Many of them have promised help in my mission,” he said.