Tuesday 18 June 2013

Pratham Books Champion : Amol Ranjan

For International Literacy Day (8th September), we had a dream - we wished that 100 people would volunteer to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We ended up finding more than 250 champions to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

This story was sent to us by Amol Ranjan. Amol Ranjan did his B.A in English Literature from Banaras Hindu University. He has always had a keen interest in theatre and has worked on many street plays in U.P. Next, he enrolled at Tata institute of Social Sciences for a M.A. in Media and Cultural Studies programme. His first documentary film was titled Fish Tales, which traces the journey of the film makers as they attempt to understand the Trombay Koliwada within the framework of the ‘modern’ city Mumbai. Bharatmata Ki jai, his second documentary is about a single screen theater Bharatmata Cinema, in Lower Parel Mumbai, which exclusively screens Marathi films.He did his paper on the use of participatory theater under the ambit of BSUP (Basic Services for Urban Poor) scheme at Nanded, Maharashtra. He worked as Community Mobilisation Co-ordinator with UNICEF and Collectorate Office at Sukma, Chhatisgarh and helped a community radio initiative by a society, Yuva Jagriti Samiti. 

More than 400 children screamed ‘’Haan!!!!!!” with resonating excitement when I asked them “kya aap logon ko story acchi lagi?”The reverb hit me directly into my face and it was pleasant knock-out. I had never imagined that the experience would be so fulfilling and satisfying. I felt like not doing anything for the entire day.

This is a porta-cabin, Murtonda at Sukma district in Chhhatisgarh. Porta-cabin is a residential schooling system, which has been recently developed to provide a safe and supportive environment for students up to 8th class. There are more than ten of these Porta- cabins in the Sukma district and many more in the entire Bastar region. Sukma is considered to be one of the backward districts of the country and it also has been a volatile place for extremists’/Maoists’ violent activities. Few months back, the ex-collector of this newly formed district got captured by the Maoists for more than two weeks. He was released only after Chhatisgarh govt. agreed to release the few well known stalwarts of the Maoist regime in Chhatasgarh. 

The place where many of the traditional government schools has been destroyed or damaged during the explosive exchanges between the Maoists and the CRPF forces, these Porta-cabins have been providing a lot of support to most of the fear stricken children who deserve much attention.

In many of the cases, many of the children from these Porta-cabins move out as they please to their homes. Some come back, other don’t. Many of their parents consider a cattle grazing is a better option than sending their children to schools as it would at least provide them with a livelihood but most of them haven’t been school to themselves and they don’t know the what a schooling system intends to provide to children or they are not aware of benefits of sending their children to school.

Anyway, it’s safer to be at these Porta-cabins than roaming across the jungles of Bastar, where one is likely to be between the two guns ready to fire at any given moment, or more frighteningly firing a barrel by itself. 

It been almost two months since I have come here and I have been making few visits at primary schools and aanganwadis to attend various meetings to discuss the problem that they face but this visit to the Murtotonda Porta-cabin for the story-telling session was the experience of the life time. I had never imagined in my time that I could be able to tell a story to 467 children at a time. That projected PDF file did many wonders and created a spell among the children and I am still spell bound.

Thank you Susheela!, thanks a lot Pratham and of course Maya, thanks for the wonderful support. Murtonda Porta cabin says thanks to every one of youJ

Thank you Amol for spreading the joy of reading!

View more pictures from the International Literacy Day Celebrations.

This blog contains stories sent in by all our champions. Browse through the blog for more stories. You can also go through the tags on the right side of the blog to find stories happening in your own city.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

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