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"Ladenge, Jitenge, Sikhenge, Badenge!": We will fight, we will win, we will learn, we will grow!
May 17, 2000

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The gurujis, or teachers, pose outside the huts of the jeevanshala.
Caption
We're now at a school in India. This school is called a jeevanshala or a "school of life," and it is one of the first schools here in the Narmada River Valley. The buildings are thatched huts made from local tree trunks, twigs, and leaves. People from all over the area pitched in to build the huts. It took less than a week to build the entire campus where 120 students, from the 1st to the 5th grade, live and study.

Meet 18-year old Doorsing Bulyadaya, one of the first graduates of the school which was formed back in 1991. One night I sat up late, under the stars talking with Doorsing about the school.

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Doorsing (in the green t-shirt) sits with other graduates of the jeevanshala, all home from school for the summer.
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"Before, we never had schools," they explained to me through an interpreter, "There was a teacher taking a salary from the state, but we never saw him! Still, the government gives money each month to teachers staying in a nearby town, who don't do anything! We are struggling to get that salary for ourselves."

Vocabulary

interpreter - someone who translate from one language to another
salary - a monthly payment for work
illiterate - unable to read or write

Because these villages may soon be covered by water from a large dam, the government has not bothered to build anything in the area. There are no roads, no schools, and no water pipes or electricity.

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Keshave Sirra Vasave, the head of Nimghavan village, twists a rope of natural fibers while he talks with me.
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Doorsing states, "The meals are very basic with usually just rice or wheat and soup twice a day, with an occasional papaya slice or vegetable. This is very similar to what children eat in their own houses."

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The school of life has a steep learning curve: young men risk their lives in the monsoon satyagrahas. Photo by Deepa and Harekrishna
Caption
Doorsing now goes to school in the nearby town of Dhulia, and is in the eighth grade. To you, it may seem like a failure for an 18-year old to only be in the eighth grade, but for Doorsing, that is quite an achievement. Most people in his village are still illiterate and have never attended school.

Because there is no electricity, students often study after dark by repeating things out loud, they'll go over their math tables or repeat a story orally.

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Doorsing's village is mostly illiterate-but he wants to change that!
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I asked Doorsing what he plans to do when he finishes school, and he told me, "My goal is to work with the people. People here can't read and write. I'm interested, and now I want to teach."

Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

Abeja - "Ladenge, Jitenge, Sikhenge, Badenge!": We will fight, we will win, we will learn, we will grow!
Jasmine - Let's hope elephants never forget!

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