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Tainsar Think Centre

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Santosh Sir's house in Tainsar

Deogarh gets about 134 cms of rainfall in the peak monsoon in July-August. As much as they are a relief from the scorching summer sun, they come with their challenges. In rural India, many still live in mud huts. One of them in Tainsar belongs to our offline Mentor, Mr. Santosh Kumar Sahoo, popularly known as Santosh Sir in Ek-Asha.

Our OTCs started at Preeti's house last year. They were only suitable for older children, who went home to teach their siblings, cousins and neighbours who couldn't attend the classes. While the intention was noble, it lacked quality. Therefore, parents came to us seeking lessons for their younger children. Schools are probably the safest place for their children while they work in forests and farms. Aside from providing them with the 'mid-day meal', it kept them learning and out of trouble under adult supervision.

Children on the way to Think Centre.

Education is a scarce commodity in these parts due to several social, economic, and geographic factors. We don't allow our young ones beyond the driveway for fear of mishap. These children, similarly dear to their parents, brave all weathers, terrains, and wildlife to travel a longer distance, than what is acceptable in the developed society, to learn.

We could not provide food on our small budget. But, our OTCs and tinker labs stimulated these curious minds to explore the benefits of learning. Our motto is to embrace the educational need of a child within an age bracket that we take under our wing, to leave them well-endowed for their future course.

We needed an experienced teacher of a more considerate disposition for the younger kids who would help their learning journey without resorting to violence. Our volunteer Bijay suggested his much-revered teacher, Santosh sir. The hapless educator had lost his job to the closure of his previous employer's institution. The locals couldn't afford to pay him to tutor their kids; therefore, he now worked in the forest as a day labourer to earn his living. It was a harrowing story.

The average income of a teacher in villages is only a few thousand rupees. At this point, our little donations could not afford us a full-time teacher's salary, and we would have to ask for more contributions. However, it wouldn't be right to disrupt someone's situation with a job offer if we could not sustain it long-term. Will paves the way through adversities.

Our volunteer from the UK, Sabyasachi, decided to pick up the cause despite the reservations within the team. He appealed to his peers in his circle in the UK for donations to secure at least one year's salary for the teacher before he approached him.

A kindly gentleman donated the entire sum. It solved many problems in one shot. We could extend the benefits of Ek-Asha to the younger children, help a teacher in dire straits, and the children would be already through the elementary studies in Think Centre by the time they graduate to our OTCs. Thus, the classroom of ten younger students in Santosh sir's verandah commenced on June 17, 2021.

The two little girls come early morning at 5.

Our numbers grew and Lo-behold, those with initial misgivings, also warmed up to the idea. Fifteen kids on the tiny verandah were a squeeze, and they spilt onto a small 10' by 10' patio. Almost a year later, Santosh Sir mentors 28 children in two batches, morning and evening. Two little girls who joined lately would come as early as 5 in the morning to get some study time under his guidance because there was no room in the regular classes.

Santosh Sir taking the morning class.

In a short passage, it will be hard to summarise Mr. Sahoo's influence on the lives of the children he mentors. A motivated educator like him is a rare asset, and team Ek-Asha is grateful to have found him.

Temporary shelter from the mild shower.

We dealt with the mild showers by hanging Tarpaulin curtains around the 5' by 10' verandah when the children were fewer. We are more now. The neatly mud-coated grounds turn to sludge in the heavy rain, disrupting the education for a lack of sitting space and cover from the downpour.

Intentions often succumb to insufficient capital. Mr. Sahoo hadn't any to spend on the solution, and we couldn't afford to surrender to the consequences.

Weatherproofing the porch.

So, on the second week of June 2022, we used some of our funds to fix the place. The children, their parents, and our volunteers pooled their efforts and made every paisa of the carefully budgeted ₹15000 work. Fourteen days of love's labour paid up.

The learning space is now secure; this year will be our first trudge through a Deogarh monsoon with this many children attending our lessons. We try our best and pray that the heavens watch over these children and bless their efforts with an equivalently rewarding future.

Written by Shivani Mishra A volunteer at Ek-Asha

Please read our blog for "The first OTC of Deogarh at Tainsar" for information.

274 views2 comments


Manasi Mishra
Manasi Mishra

Brilliant, Teachers are real pillar of Education and so as Santosh sir..


Satyabrata Nayak
Satyabrata Nayak

Inspiring ....

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