Malda/Kolkata, Nov 19: Motherhood transcends gender. Unconditiol love knows no caste barriers. Defying norms, in a rundown neighbourhood in Malda in West Bengal, transwoman Arindam Saha Kundu (now known as Priyanka) and her fellow transgender friends (Abhijit g and Bapon Jemadar) are busy imparting education to more than 40 children belonging to the Dalit community that is largely engaged in manual scavenging.
Known for its juicy mangoes, Malda district has a high percentage of children not attending school, as documented in the book “Dalits and Tribes of India” (a compilation of Papers presented at a three-day tiol Semir on “Agenda for Emancipation and Empowerment of Dalits and Tribes”). Children from the scheduled communities are even less likely to do so. The railway colony in Malda town harbours the Dalit community.
Choosing to look beyond their own share of problems (discrimited for their gender), Priyanka and the rest, hailing from the town itself, decided to be a ray of hope to the margilised kids, who lose much of their childhood to manual scavenging, gambling and drugs.
“Although it is 2017, people still treat the Dalit community as untouchables. The children suffer as the impoverished families are not able to afford education and often take their wards along while doing manual scavenging, cleaning tasks, etc. We wanted to do something for them,” Priyanka told IANS from Malda.
She also wanted to give in to her materl instincts. “By soul we are women and so there is a deep yearning to be a mother. Since we can’t do that, this is the closest possible; we can be with children and help them find their way,” said Priyanka, a commerce graduate.
So in June, “Sapno Ki Udaan” under the Gour Bangla Sanghati Samiti took wings in a room of a local club.
Ranging from the primary to middle school levels, the children, mostly dropouts, have only had stches of education. “Some children know the alphabet, some don’t. So the challenge was to customise the lessons. We are providing them lessons in basic science, maths, English, etc. The idea is to get them up to scratch so they can go back to schools,” Priyanka explained. The beginning was shaky.
“The children were friendly with us. So we didn’t have much issues with them, but their parents were reluctant. It was not just that we were transgender, it was also the fact that they didn’t feel educating their children would be of much help,” Priyanka explained.
The idea was galvanised into action with the help of Bapon, a transgender from the Dalit community. He helped convince the parents to let the children come each evening to the school. (IANS)