He Started A Classroom In A Cowshed With Rs.800,Today He Teaches 500 Students For Free

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How often do we come across change makers who really want to bring a huge difference in the society? It is pretty evident there are only a few who foresee and get things done. Uttam Teron, an unsung personality from Pamohi, a tribal-dominated village in Guwahati, took upon himself to educate the illiterate and uneducated lot from the village.

There is nothing you cannot achieve when you have oodles of passion for a particular thing. This worked in the case of Uttam Teron. Teaching was his call and henceforth, in the year 2003 he set-up Parijat Academy at a cowshed with a mere sum of       Rs 800 and began with the first four children.

Basic education is very important in Parijat Academy 

Uttsam used to teach those children playfully which would arouse the curiosity in them. He asked kids to make toys with the help of mud and clay and made the classes enjoyable.

He worked on the basics of those little kids through songbooks and taught them basic Hindi, Assamese, and English lexicons within one hour of divided scheduled classes.

Parijat Academy

In the next three years, 32 more kids joined the academy because parents saw the kids improving at a faster rate. “Basic things are very important for the kids. We can blend the minds in a different way if we teach them playfully,” Uttam says in a hushed tone.

He says he chose the name ‘Parijat’ because the word means a beautiful flower that blooms in heaven and he believes children are like flowers; they can’t comprehend what’s good and bad. And academy was added later on to make the parents feel they were sending their children to an English medium school because that’s what made them elated.

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Initially, Uttam had to beseech people for benches, pencils, old bags, and books for the children.Tribal parents are ignorant of their children’s education because they can’t afford even the very basic stationary items, says Uttam in a concerned tone. At first, the parents were very sceptical of sending their kids to the academy but his focus towards teaching the illiterates never turned him down.

Despite all the odds and ups and downs, the hurdles were still there. Uttam’s parents were not supportive. They always had this question as to why their son was doing all this for free. He recalls asking for money from his parents everytime he went to the market. He says he does not like teaching, but he started Parijat Academy because he couldn’t see the children wasting their time lazing around in the fields instead of studying. “I don’t do this for money. I am doing this because my hearts says so.” Uttam says this, sternly.

Experiences that made the intention stronger

It was until 2005 when Uttam Teron met a Japanese tourist on his trip to Bodhgaya and things suddenly revamped. From the tourist he learnt how to send emails and sent the first-ever mail to an organisation asking for second-hand clothes and books for the 32 kids.

Parijat Academy

“After a month I received a mail that said that the organisation has parcelled 105 kgs of books and clothes in the name of Parijat Academy and Rs 32,000 in my name. I never expected this kind of help and it was huge and unbelievable for me and that’s what made my intention stronger. Soon enough, the school uniform was ready for the 32 kids,” Uttam exclaims. In the next few days once again an organisation from Singapore donated crayons, drawing sheets, and books for the students.

The same year a photojournalist visited Parijat Academy and within the next few days Uttam was featured in the English daily from Assam that published the story under the headline, “Teron needs help for his 32 children”. People got in touch and started donating and this opened the closed doors for Uttam.

What Parijat Academy is today

The Academy has classes from Nursery to 10th-grade with total 512 indigent children and 20 plus teachers. Sixty students who are from the remotest area of the village where everyone is deprived of even basic requirements; they are given everything for free. The academy provides free accommodation to them because it’s not possible for them to walk all the way up to forty kilometres to attend the classes, shares Uttam. The academy also offers training on computers. There are library facilities, sewing lessons, sports, dance, and much more.

Parijat Academy

“What’s important for the students is skills,” Uttam says, “we even send our students to Nation youth festivals because that way they will see and learn new things and their mind will broaden.”

Today Sankar Bongjang the Garbhanga village boy has brought happiness to Parijat family. Sankar has got job appointment…

Posted by Parijat Academy on Friday, January 12, 2018

There are regular activities like inter-school girls and boys football and dance activities. Parijat Academy also organises trekking and outings for the students. Girls are taught sewing, ready-made garment making including awareness on menstrual hygiene and sanitation. Uttam’s family now supports him. His wife Aimoni Tumung has always been with him throughout these years of struggle and played a vital role in dusting off illiteracy.

NASA astronaut Michale Fincke visited the academy and lauded the noble and extraordinary work by Uttam Teron and now he’s a part of it. In 2011, Uttam was also awarded the CNN IBN Real Heroes Award for his contribution to society.

“Our greatest challenge until around now has been fundraising because funds from different countries are not enough to sustain. Sometimes we do not pay the teachers for two to three months,” says Uttam. Currently, we are looking out for hundred or fifty potential donors who can donate a sum of thousand rupees per month on a regular basis.

Address: Parijat Academy, Pamohi, P.O. Garchuk, Guwahati-781035, Assam.; Email: [email protected]

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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