One day, my husband came home and announced that he had given up drinking alcohol. Apparently, an Art of Living program was the reason for this change. He pushed me to do this program too. Little did I know that the program was about to change my life’s direction as well. You see, the instructor there was keen on making changemakers out of us simpletons. And somehow, he did!
Soon after that, I started a free school at my home. The Art of Living helped us fund books, uniforms, staff’s pay, etc. As more students rolled in, we shifted to a godown, but we needed more resources. One day, the Sarpanch suddenly asked us to move out of the godown, and we had to move to my father’s place. But the students were increasing fast, and we needed a bigger building.
Seeing our distress, my father gave us an acre of his land for the school building. I was overwhelmed. I had not even asked him, and there he was giving a significant chunk of his hard work for our dream. My husband and I began building bricks for the building and volunteers lent their support in the construction work. When the building was ready, it was the happiest moment for all of us. The building is now a second home to 110 kids.
I have realized that a focused mind can do anything. It can attract support from unexpected quarters. Just the other day, the whole school staff contributed in constructing the toilets. When parents of children from other schools send their kids to us, people ask, “Aisa kya hai Basanti mein jo sab uske paas ja rahe hai? (What’s so special about Basanti that everybody is going to her?)” They do not understand that it is the dedication and commitment of the team that is doing the wonders. We have a retired school teacher who guides all teachers on lesson plans for free. The school cook, Shakuntala, cooks every day under the sun only because of her love for the kids. There are so many such examples.
We also teach our kids yoga, meditation, music, dance, sports and even couplets of Ramayana and Kabir. Our happiest moments are when our children win state-level competitions in dance and sports. The children here are very happy and so are their parents.
- Basanti Mahato, Headmistress, Sri Sri Gyan Mandir, Village Sanbambua, Odisha
Written by Vanditaa Kothari