Ranchi: Suchita Baraik is only 18, but she supports her ageing parents by working as a domestic help. But the teenager from Saket Nagar in Hinoo dons the role of a teacher in the evening and imparts education to around 60 children in the nearby slum area.
Suchita was forced to drop out of school around four years ago due to financial constraints, but she always wanted to become a teacher. Her mother met with an accident a few months ago. This compelled Suchita to take up odd jobs to provide for her family.
“My father is bed-ridden. My mother brought me up and encouraged me to study. I studied till Class VIII in Hinoo United High School, but was forced to drop out as money was a problem. I wanted to become a teacher,” said Suchita.
Suchita started the school in January with the help of another daily wage labourer, Sikandar Lohra. The duo visited slums situated around the airport in Hinoo trying to persuade residents, primarily rickshaw pullers, domestic helpers and daily wage labourers to send their children to school. Initially reluctant, the parents started sending their children to the makeshift ‘school’ in operation outside Suchita’s house on mats.
Suchita’s daily routine includes visiting two homes where she works as a cook, attending her own coaching classes for her the matriculation exam at a coaching centre for tribal students in Doranda, cooking meals for her parents while also making time to teach students from 5 pm. In three months, she has managed to enrol 60 children (ages 6-14 years).
However, money is still a problem. “We started the school with donations. Many donated old books, registers, pencils for the students,” said Suchita, who now aims to include children of all five slums in Saket Nagar area and plans to approach the district administration for help. “It is difficult to teach children in the rain. My house cannot accommodate more than 10 students. I have asked my former teachers to allow us to use two classrooms in the evening for two hours. The school administration has agreed to consider our request. I also plan to approach the local ward councillor for help,” she said.
Puspa Tirkey, councillor of ward number 52, acknowledged the good work and said, “I will try to help her to ensure children are educated,” said Tirkey.