Friday, December 1, 2023

Bringing a sight of relief for the tribal kids

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Santosh Esram, who is working for the betterment of the tribal kids, gets candid with The Pioneer about his education centers, initiatives, and more.
Nirnitha Nannapuraju
A freelance travel photographer and cinematographer, Santosh Esram, has become a reason for the little trible kids of around 7 to 8 years old, keeping them occupied throughout the week. He gets candid with The Pioneer about his education centers, initiatives, and more.
He runs an education center called Bheem Children Happiness Centre for almost 300 tribal students. So much inclined towards the cause that even though he has no infrastructure, he makes sure to educate these kids in the best way possible. Wondered how? “I use walls as blackboards to give the kids a basic education. I decided to start the education center when I saw the vulnerable condition of the tribal people living in the hamlets of Ailapuram, Danduapally, Kalwapally, Bandlaphad, Musalammapenta, Saralammagumpu, Neelamthogu, Takkellagudem, and Project Nagar.” Well, he was moved!
Santosh believes that education is an inalienable right and that every person, irrespective of their gender, religion,caste, financial status, and belief system, has to be provided with quality education.
Sharing about how he has motivated the kids to come to the center, Santosh recalls, “There is a particular center where the kids meet to play daily. So we observed them, and then for two months we started distributing eggs to them so they could get at least the basic nutrition. In this process, the kids got so habituated to us that they now come to us daily and wait for their daily eggs.”
So how did he get them together? Initially, Santosh and a few of his friends gathered 40 such students, set up a hut for these kids, and started teaching them the alphabets on the walls there. Later, he managed to get some volunteer teachers to teach the kids basic rhymes and involve them in extra-circular activities like teaching them how to play football and other games.
The students in these centers also catch up with the trends in the world with the newspapers specially bought for them. As in, the kids and the teachers here do not have to follow a particular time to come to school, unlike the regular school. Santosh further shares, “The timings of the school are so flexible that the teacher can come to the school and teach the kids in their free time.”
Like a coin has both sides, the school centers have gone through their worst circumstances. Namely, “The walls in the school had collapsed due to the torrential rains hitting the state, and they had to reconstruct the walls and infrastructure from scratch. In the process of developing the school center, I am now in talks with forest officials and locals.”
The school was lucky to get funds, while Santosh’s documentary about the tribes living in Warangal was featured by the BBC. Ending the conversation on a brighter note, he says, “Local students studying in other districts show interest in teaching the kids while they return to their homes from their hostels.”
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