By Dharminder Balach
Sampat Das became a teacher after he could not continue his graduation because of an accident which changed his life. While going to his college for his B.Sc. class one day in 2012, he met a road accident. He remained in a coma for several days. He had to put his plan to pursue higher education on hold until he got recovered from the accident.
It was in 2015 when he fully recovered from the incident and decided to dedicate his life to teaching young kids from the marginalized Hindu community in the Cholistan: “I thought of opening a school for the underprivileged students who can’t continue their education and wander in the streets,” tells 27 years old Sampat Das to PakVoices.
Many children from the Hindu minority community in the Cholistan, Rahim Yar Khan, drop out of the school because their parents can’t afford to send them. Some parents complain about religious discrimination and bias their children face at the Govt. schools, forcing them to stop their kids from going to such schools. Das is trying to make a difference in the village of Southern Punjab, Chak No. 103 in Rahim Yar Khan by running a free school for street kids from the Hindu community.
For all such children from the Hindu community, Bright Future School has become a preference school. Das also welcomes underprivileged students from the Muslim community at the school. But a majority of Hindu kids are studying at the school with 40 students enrolled at the moment.
After studying at the school, some of the students have to go to work in the evening in order to meet the expenses of their families.
Ajay Kumar, a student who works at a tyre shop, told PakVoices,” I couldn’t continue my studies as my parents could not support me financially and I had to give full time to job.” He adds: “Now people can’t call me illiterate because I can write my name.”
He adds: “Now people can’t call me illiterate because I can write my name thanks to my teacher Sampat Das.”
Das teaches these underprivileged kids four hours in the morning free of any cost in his school which consists of only one room. Das pays the rent of school by himself with help from some of his friends and family members.
Some Government school going students also come to Das for evening classes which have helped them to do remarkably well at their school. So far, 17 students from the minority Hindu community have clinched positions in the board exams.
Talking to PakVoices Das said, “I get really upset when I see children doing labour work,” adding, “but the interest of some street children in learning at the school has also given me a hope.”
Ali Hamza, another student who works at a motor mechanic workshop, talked to PakVoices saying, “Education has improved my life; now I can better understand the goods prices information when I go to market.”
Dharminder Balach works with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Rahim Yar Khan.
All photos by the writer