A Sanskrit Teacher At A Village School In Jodhpur Helps Children From Sindh Feel At Home
A teacher from Jodhpur, Rajasthan builds bridges for children who have migrated from Sindh in Pakistan, so that they can integrate smoothly into their new home.
Laraib Fatima Warsi 25 Aug 2023 7:37 AM GMT
Asha Bai is writing short skits for her students. It is a task to which she pays a lot of attention as the skit is going to be performed by children who have migrated here from Sindh, and are now students of the Senior Secondary School Madhya Poorv, in Gangana village in Luni block, Jodhpur district.
Though the 43-year-old teaches Sanskrit to students of classes 6 -12, she does a lot more for her students.
There are approximately 1500 students in the school, many of whom are children of migrants from Sanghar in Sindh Province in Pakistan.
“I still remember getting on the train in Mirpur Khas railway station in Sindh. It was the month of December in 2013. It took us two days to reach Barmer,” recalled Manji Bheel, a 17 year old boy who now lives in Gangana village, and is a student of class 10.
“Asha Ma’am conducted extra classes for us after school so that we could start communicating better. She made sure we learnt at our own pace and learnt Hindi through the skits and conversations,” Manji told Gaon Connection.
The migrant children knew little when they first joined the school. They only spoke Sindhi, Dai said. “They did not even know things our nursery children would know. I decided to make them comfortable first in the language before getting down to teaching them other things,” she said.
So she began to write short skits in simple Hindi that the children could manage. “This would help them learn the language and bring them out of their shells,I thought,” she said.
The transition from Sindh to Jodhpur was a difficult one for most of the children. “The children were bullied as they came from Pakistan. Children can be cruel and the local students would make fun of them and their accents and often tell them to go back from where they came,” the teacher said.
Dai knew these were hurtful to the migrant children but she had to tread carefully so as not to antagonise anyone. So, she set about creating mixed study groups, organising competitions and putting up plays where the children all participated together and got to know one another gradually.
According to the teacher, the parents of the children moved here as they believed India was their motherland and they could at least live with some ease here. “They said they couldn’t even afford a square meal a day. And that living there was impossible due to inflation, poverty and lack of access to basic amenities such as housing, schooling, medical, etc” she said. “I therefore felt I had that extra responsibility in making sure they would not regret their decision,” she said.
Asha Bai visited the homes of the children who had come from across the border to meet the parents and convince them how important it was to send their children to school. “I had to do this as many of them were not ready to send their children to school, especially their daughters,” she said.
“I had to fight to join the school. I want to be a barrister but my father believes education for me is a waste as I will have to get married eventually,” Anita, a class nine student told Gaon Connection. Her father was a labourer back in Sindh and now works as a farmer in Gangana village. Her favourite subject is Sanskrit, but she wonders if she will be able to study and realise her dream. But for now, she loves coming to school.
“Asha Ma’am helped me tackle my problem, which was my inability to communicate in Hindi. I could neither talk to the teachers nor my classmates because I did not know a word. But she was there for me every step of the way,” Anita said.