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Reindeers of Kolkata!

A group of college students ‘Onnyorokom’ giving free classes to street kids in Kolkata every Saturday. After their school and college periods, venture out to teach more kids of Raj Ballav Street of Kolkata.

Neither this period is forty minutes, nor do they just learn book lessons. This class contains much more than just a chapter of books. To grow their interest in studies, they keep sketch-paints, music, different types of games, a little complimentary for them. This list has not been ended here, it depends on their demands. Someday their demand to their ‘dada-didi’ is “we want colour pencils”, “no, no, I want to eat samosa”, “I want a colour book”. Gladly their ‘Dada-didi’ keep their wishes like Santa as per their pockets.This tenderness is never one sided. These kids also give compliments from their little money from selling roses, pens, incense.

“This class contains the lessons of life. Actual tales of life and regular struggles they teach us. Once a sad person will see their lifestyle closely, he will think himself the luckiest.”, Soumi Chattergee,a member of ‘Onnyorokom’ shared with ‘True to Life’.

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Srabani Pardhan, a member, said to TtL,“When we come near this front gate of Jagat-Mukherjee park we hear a noise coming from the footpath ‘dada-didi eseche’, which means elder brother and sisters have come. This is such an honour, I can’t express it through words”.

‘Onnyorokom’ belongs to Belgharia, a place of Kolkata. In 2008, it started teaching slum children in ‘Rabindranagar’ a slum of belgharia. Later, some drunken slum people created issues in that initiative. Again Mr. Ranjan Sarkar with their students started social works like spreading awareness in social issues by drama and cultural programs or exhibitions, magazine publishing etc.

Mr. Ranjan Sarkar said, “On this precious day of Christmas, at Jesus’s birth place more than 20,400 people have died. This dark side of this Christmas is not to be forgotten. ‘Onnyorokom’ is trying to protest in their way.”

Bed means a chowki by the side of a footpath. A dirty tattered old mattress on that, some pillows without covers and a mosquito net with lots of large holes. Under that chowki, some hari-kadai, and some dishes, to get bricks on the side of the road, burning wood in the middle and cooking in it. And this is the house of all these people on the sidewalk.

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What is a bedroom and what is a kitchen there !

Some torn parts of a book are rolling in the road in the dust of the cart and horse. 5 To give food to the mouths of children where there is struggle, education is only a luxury. Still some eagerness can be noticed there, the eagerness to be the ‘odd one out’.

Rupam Mistri, a member shared with TtL that these kids are the medicine for their stress and frustration of regular life. He said, “When we come in this park to them with the tiredness of the whole week, their smiling faces take us back to our childhood.”

Jagat-Mukherjee park in Baghbazar, is a ‘library-park’. Along with slides and swing there main attractions are books. Those belong to various different shades of subject and contents and from the nine to ninety all sit together to study of their choice.

“Many NGOs have tried to take classes of these street kids here. But they didn’t continue for a long time. They came for like one month and then clicked pictures for their website and never came again. Then a new NGO comes here and they repeat it. Onnyorokom is a team which is continuing this for a year. Kids are very naughty, very tough to handle but there are some kids who want to study. They don’t get a proper environment. Traffic and vehicle chaos are their classmates. After school whatever they read, they do here only.”, a person in that park told TtL about ‘Onnyorokom’.

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By : Ankitaa Bal

Reporting for ‘True To Life’

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