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My trip and a pilgrimage to Parijat Academy

Parijat AcademyI still remember my first visit to Parijat Academy in 2006. Uttam Teron, at that time had started the school with about 50 students and a small staff. This year, Parijat Academy has more than 400 students and a staff of 16. In addition, Uttam Teron has been successful in raising awareness among the people of the area about education and healthcare. Parijat Academy is located in Village Pamohi. Even after sixty years of India’s independence, the people of Pamohi and the nearby village Garbhanga have been living without civic amenities such as adequate healthcare, quality education and reliable road communication. In the summer, the people still have to walk 17 kms to reach the nearest weekly bazar at Lokhra, Guwahati. Medical facilities are non-existent in the area where malaria, jaundice and waterborne diseases are common. The hilly track to Garbhanga is motorable only during winter. Amidst this gloomy atmosphere, Uttam Teron is bringing rays of hope to the people. Uttam is planning to adopt two schools in Garbhanga and sponsor a few teachers from Parijat Academy for appointment in these schools.

I visited Parijat Academy on 2nd January, 2008. I had the good fortune of meeting the children, the teachers, and notables such as Mr. Jayanta Barman (retired engineer and eminent builder and constructor), Ms. Santana Sarma (advocate, Guwahati High Court) and Mrs. Meera Saikia (noted social worker). They are well wishers of Parijat Academy and they have been providing the much-needed mental and emotional support to the teachers and the school children. I was also delighted to meet Alpana and Ram Sarangapani of Houston.

Nitin Bezbaruah Sarangapani Library at Parijat Academy: In the month of December 2007, Alpana and Ram Sarangapani of Texas, visited Parijat Academy and established a library as a dedication to their son Nitin. The construction of the library has started with one room and the Sarangapani family has funded book shelves, a marble sign, and books and materials. The library is also getting help from Wahid Saleh of the Netherlands. A Netherlands based organization has been approached for funding with an objective to equip the library with computers, a printer, a photocopier and other learning tools. It is expected that the library will be a knowledge center and will provide immeasurable help to both students and the community in that area.

On that January day, I also met Mr. Satyajit Nath of Seattle, Biju Barbaruah of Tamulpur, District of Nalbari, and Kaushik Das of Guwahati. Satyajit Nath works at Microsoft and also volunteers for Asha for education supporting many projects in Assam. Biju Barbaruah has been working selflessly for the underprivileged children, men and women in Tamulpur, a remote area situated near Bhutan border. The organization Asha Darshan has been supporting a number of educational institutions and women Self Help Groups. The vocational unit of Asha Darshan has been doing som tree plantation for muga rearing, weaving, cutting knitting and embroidery. Mr. Kaushik Das is the founder of AtmaNirbhar–Ek Chalenge. This is a unique organization dedicated for the welfare and economic rehabilitation of the disabled through packaging and marketing of tea, spices etc. It is also worthwhile to mention that Mr. Das won the prestigious Helen Keller Award in the promotion of employment of the disabled.

That day I also met Bitu Gogoi of Prajnalaya, Titabor, Assam. Mr. Gogoi mentioned that despite the untimely demise of founder Jugal Bhuyan, Prajnalaya is growing and has created a positive influence among the villagers and people of that area. In recognition of Prajnalaya effort, the Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Tarun Gogoi visited Prajnalaya and lauded their effort. Mr. Bitu Gogoi also shared with me the news that An Assamese documentary film Echoes of Sunshine based on the life and struggle of insurgent-turned-social activist, late Jugal Bhuyan, has been nominated for the New York International Film Festival, which is scheduled to take place tentatively in the month of March this year.

Mr. Jayanta Barman told me that he is planning for a Charity Walk in Guwahati, led by Garvin Brown, a noted Gandhian of Australia. Eighty years old, Mr. Garvin Brown is coming for this walk to raise fund for Parijat Academy, Prajnalaya and Asha Darshan. It is expected that the Charity Walk will also raise awareness about the wonderful work of Late Jugal Bhuyan, Uttam Teron, Kaushik Das, Biju Barbaruah and others.

Sincerity, credibility and dedication are the keys for success in any endeavor. If someone has these qualities, he or she is going to achieve his goal no matter the obstacles that come on their way. Parijat Academy, Prajnalay, AtmaNirbhar–Ek Chalenge and Asha Darshan are the living proofs of that. As I left Parijat Academy I felt fulfilled; it became the most sacred pilgrimage of my life.

Ankur Bora, Texas