Though he worked at the inn to fill his and his sister’s stomach, the longing for reading and writing was still in his heart. Whenever he had leisure time, he used to sit reading his old books. Sometimes, he went around his school. It would give him immense pleasure when he dreamt of a day he would continue his education after seeing children studying in their classes.
He is 10-year old Alekh who had never thought a day would come when he would be able to resume his education to fulfill his mother’s wish to create his own identity in the society he had to leave school.
But Ganjam district education officer (DEO) Sanatan Panda appeared as godsend for Alekh and his five-year-old sister Tarini residing with their mother at Forest Colony in Berhampur town as he got them readmitted to school.
Things had been going on well for a family comprising four members-Dharma Rao, his wife Bini, son Alekh and daughter Tarini– till the sudden vanishing of Dharma three years ago.
The burden of running the family unit finally fell on Bini when Dharma did not return. She started working as domestic help, but it was still too difficult for her to feed her children and herself, leave alone meeting the nominal education expenses.
Bini was aware of her son’s inclination towards education, but was helpless. The circumstances took Alekh to a hotel from Berhampur Medical Campus School.
Panda’s residence is near Alekh’s house. One evening, while playing badminton, Panda noticed Alekh watching him. He gave him a chance to play the game and since then Alekh used to visit Panda’s residence to play badminton.
With the passing of each day, their intimacy developed and Panda came to know all about his family condition and his love for reading.
Panda directed (Cluster Resource Center Coordinator) CRCC Tara Charan Mishra to get text books, uniforms and shoes for Alekh and Tarini.
Panda, with the children by his side, said, “I am overwhelmed seeing the kind of desire for studying in Alekh. That moved me to get them admitted to the school. And I will bear the cost of their education”.
Finally, the day of Alekh’s dream arrived and he and his sister Tarini reached the school in ironed, neat and clean uniforms with shining shoes and bags on their backs. On their first day, the DEO also accompanied them and got Alekh enrolled in Class-IV while Tarini in Class-I.