There was a time when people did not have a specific home. Once, river Gypsies spent time in boats. The boat was their home. River gypsies used to wander from one place to another. Their only livelihood was catching snakes, playing snake games, playing horns, selling Kabiraji medicines, blowing bushes, selling bangles and ribbons. The women of this society are the main earners. They have to take care of the world.
Their culture or their way of life is that they keep snakes in the boxes and walk around the city walking around and watching snakes play. In exchange for showing the game, they take money from people. They are decorated with bangles of different colors for sale. Besides, they are seen more before different festivals, Pohela Boishakh, Pohela Falgun, Eid before different days.
But with the passage of time, the river gypsies have changed among themselves. Some have changed their profession, their way of life today – breaking their ancient tradition, many have started living in modern buildings, pucca, semi-pucca and tin-shed houses. Men are also working today. Some of them drive rickshaws, some are garment workers and some are doing business with a tea shop in Bede Palli (village of gypsies). This is their life – neglected life for a child growing up in this river gypsies countryside. Where they don’t get anything right, education is a bit of a dream!
In the river gypsies, women usually wear a colorful sari a little higher and without a ruffle. They also have a short blouse with them. However, one of their characteristics is that no matter what sari or salwar-kameez they wear, it is tight with the body. Almost all women wear one or sometimes two noloks on their noses. The environment of the river gypsies countryside is different from all other environments. If you set foot in that neighborhood, you can see a game of playing cards. Can’t leave. What could be their future if a child is born in such an environment? How innocently an innocent child has to grow up, where it is said, “Today’s child is tomorrow’s future.”
But will the beautiful future of the child be revealed at all in this neglected and unconscious environment? Those who see an unhealthy environment after birth. Where there is no guarantee of education, medical care, social values.
That is why a voluntary organization called Enlightened Children has stood by these deprived and neglected children to bring back the light of their lives. Enlightened children are spreading the light of education among the children and adolescents of this river gypsies village. Enlightened children inaugurated two schools in Sirajdikhan Upazila of Munshiganj and river gypsies village in Natore city for these neglected children.
Farhin Shimu is the writer of this article
Enlightened Children is educating 150 children and adolescents from river gypsies Palli in 2 districts of Bangladesh from play to 8th grade every day from 10 am to 1 pm. And keeping Fridays and Saturdays as weekly holidays. And there are 4 teachers in 2 districts. All these neglected children are given lessons in Bengali, English, Mathematics, Society, Religion, Science, etc. like in general schools.
Moreover, these volunteer organizers not only teach these neglected children but also provide textbooks, notebooks, notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, etc. to the children in these river gypsies. They also occasionally organize different meals for these children. The child’s expectation is that in the future they will plan regular meals for these neglected children if they become financially well off. Enlightened children are getting great things from society through such extraordinary initiatives which will help in building a prosperous Bangladesh.
When the whole world is in a state of turmoil in such a big epidemic like Covid-19. Even though many educational institutions have been closed down, the voluntary organization Enlightened Children continues its activities in compliance with all the rules and regulations.
Mithun Das, the founder of Enlightened Children, added that he would like to join any other organization to ensure higher education for these neglected children so that the quality of life of these children in the river gypsies countryside can be improved.
Enlightened Children This initiative has created the possibility of a new light in Bangladesh which is truly inspiring. It will play a unique role in building an educated Bangladesh in the future. Today’s children are the leaders of tomorrow’s Bangladesh.
Farhin Shimu is the Head of communication & PR of Alokito Sishu.
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