With a lot of zeal, a cheerful heart and an inquisitive soul, I headed to a village for the first time as a part of rural immersion at India Fellow. In my head, I had formed a picture of the village life that I’d seen digitally. On getting down from the bus with my co-fellows (other fellows who joined the program with me), I was surprised to see a highway running just in the middle of the village, probably because I had always imagined villages with kachcha roads. We decided to walk towards the end first and stepped into Iswal.
This village was completely different from what I had perceived. Hints of development and modernization could be found in every few meters, such as concrete houses, bikes and mobile phones. There was a noise of children shouting nearby. As we got closer, we saw a government school full of kids running here and there. For some reason, I had believed the myth that children in villages don’t go to school. It was so overwhelming to have been proven wrong that I just stood there for a while looking at the scene ahead me, with my eyes wide open and smile turning to a grin.
As a part of the activity, we were instructed to just observe the village and not do much. I was just grasping down everything quickly. A few steps later, I lost myself inside narrow streets that smelled of damp soil and cow-dung. Making my way inside one lane after another, I found myself on the other side of the highway, and got out into what was the wider and bigger section of the village.
St. Cambridge School – it was written outside a small building just adjacent to the shop where I was sitting to take a rest break. School students came out and formed a line just in front of the school gate. I thought to myself that education is at least managing to reach the deprived corners of the country, and felt an urge to enter the school and talk to any of the teachers to understand if the village is managed well in terms of providing education to these children. But, I realized that we were told to just observe and not ask any questions. I was restless, and we continued walking further.
After half a kilometer, I spotted another school, this one sponsored by P&G as written on the board. I couldn’t control going inside where tiny tiny sleepers where lying on the floor and two kids were running. They paused for a while watching us. In a moment, we were surrounded by an excited bunch of children. The curious minds and eyes were stuck at us and I could relate to them as I used to react the same way when I was a kid.
We had a brief chat with the principal of the school who told us how government is supporting the education programs. The children are taught for free and are provided with a mid-day meal. Next, I saw posters stuck on wall made by students in 9th and 10th standard. They displayed their creativity and thoughtfulness.
By the end of the day, we had found 5 schools in total. As we were walking towards the highway, we again met a bunch of children playing on the streets. The moment they saw us, they came running and gathered around us. They were 10 of them, and 9 were enrolled in a school. While I always thought that people in villages are unaware of the importance of education, I was ignorant of the fact that rural life is improving in certain aspects.
It was a lesson to not feel pity about everything going on in villages. I see a bright future of the kids I met as they realize the importance of education. They sure will make a difference in the life at Iswal.