I am fascinated by boats.
Whenever I watch rowers practice for International Rowing competitions on the Godavari or the exquisite performances at Regatta – the annual event of COEP held at Boat Club, Pune; I yearn to be on a boat. This desire has roots in my childhood.
From paper boats to candle boats as toys to peddle boats, rowing boats and machine powered boats – I have spent hours marvelling at this unique invention which extends the reach of human accessibility across water bodies, be they water tubs, lakes, rivers or even the mighty oceans!
We had a lesson in the 8th standard, in which Totto-Chan, the little Japanese girl finally found a peaceful avenue to her creative self in a school, which was held daily in abandoned train bogies. I read the lesson everyday. My school was right next to the railway station, and our classes were often held on the open playground or on the terrace. So trains were not much of a novelty. I wished my school was on a boat.
Right, I got those looks of ‘are-you-outta-your-mind’ or ‘children-can-imagine-anything’.
Whaddoyaknow! There is one such boat school right in the heart of Kashi (Varanasi) – the Varanasi boat school.
Under the leadership of Mr. Ajeet Singh, a boat school initiative has been started by the NGO Guria.
We were fortunate to grow up in an ideal learning environment. It is not the case with each and every child in India. Our nation currently has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world with 287, which is 37% of the global total. As we have been lucky in this regard, it is our moral duty to chip in in this Journey of Doing Right.
On the banks of the sacred river Ganga, and the abode of ancient knowledge and wisdom Kashi, a handful of children are still deprived of the basic right to education. The boat school, as you can see in the video, is a learning space which in Mr. Singh’s words is a tool to encourage the students on the path of knowledge. It aims to provide the children, who otherwise resort to idling on the river banks or rag picking, with the right resources to learn stuff which a normal school education would – in a fun way.
The Varanasi Boat School which brings about this magical transformation in the kids is now itself in need of one. The make-shift arrangement which started off in the initial phase now requires renewed interiors, more infrastructure in the form of books, laptops and educational games. The boat is now on its way to becoming a #ScholarShip.
I hope you will do your bit, like me, in creating awareness and donating an amount you deem fit to the Journey of Doing Right.