Mamata Jhodia Grandmother’s Joy, Teacher’s Delight!
The library is a place of quiet happiness for children in Agragamee School. Like Mamats Jhodia they look forward eagerly to Friday afternoons, when they can loose themselves in story world of wonderful imagination. We also plan to have libraries in each of the learning centres in the villages, so children and young people can come and read, enjoy and learn.
When we asked children to describe the library, we got so many essays, we have a very difficult time choosing. We chose Mamata’s essay, because it also underscores how Agragamee Schools helps some of the most under privileged sections catch up, and love to learn!!
Mamata is from the village of Ratapada. She was orphaned very early, and grew up with her grandmother. “Mamata was about a year old, when she lost her mother. She died after a long illness. I could not take her to Rayagada as I had no money. Her father had gone away for wage labour work, and could not be contacted. I had to do the last rites all by myself, then, her father came only for the 10th day ceremony”. Mamata’s Grandmother, Ghasen reminisces.
“He refused to take the little child, and look after her, and in less than 6 months, he got another wife, and I had to bring her up” says Mamata’s grandmother. It has been really challenging bringing her up. There was very little money, I had to do wage labour work after my husband died. My older son, her father refused to even look at her. However, she is very much loved by my younger son, and his 3 sons.
“We get 10 kgs of rice, on the Chawal Card (The ration card under the National Food Security Act), and we stretch it for a month. There are many days, when I can only give her rice and spinach to eat. Sometimes, the Sahukar calls me to roast Kandul. He gives me Rs.200 per day with food. That would be for about a month or so. Those days, we would eat well. When my husband was alive, we used to be Masiri in the Sahukar’s fields. He would give us Rs.300 per month, and one meal a day. We managed with that. When my husband died I left that work.
“She looks after me now. I have become old, and cannot do much work. Mamata gets up early in the morning, fetches water, cleans the house, then cooks the food. Even when she was going to school last year, she would tell me every morning before leaving for school, ‘I have made food for you, please eat’. She even offers to get water for my bath, but how much can a little child do! So I refuse and go to the river. When Mamata joined Agragamee School, I felt relieved. She could get at least one proper meal a day.
“But more than that, she used to come home singing songs, and would show me all the songs and dances she had learnt in school. That used to make me laugh, and I enjoyed those so much!”. Ghasen’s severe work strained face softens as she speaks about her orphaned granddaughter.
Mamata joined Agragamee School in 2015. She was just skin and bones but full of energy and very lively. She would be the first to finish her work, and then she would run out of class with the excuse of drinking water etc. When her teacher began to teach songs, she would run back in, and join with much enthusiasm, eager for the teacher’s attention. With her progress to higher classes, Mamata has become an allrounder, singing, and dancing beautifully, writing lively stories, reports and essays for her school newsletter, wall magazine, as also the Annual Report, and illustrating them in the most colourful and lively manner.
We are happy to say, Mamata has got a generous sponsorship, and will be able to continue her studies in the Integral Education School in Nabrangpur District.