Gyan Hans Public School scores over the other local schools in quality education
He can't walk without support but that hasn't stopped Amarnath Rajbhar from helping others stand on their own feet. The physically challenged man has set a milestone in the field of education in this Uttar Pradesh village by running a school for poor children.
The 45-year-old man lost his left leg in 1973 while practising long jump at the age of 10. Today, the 11th-pass runs a school, Gyan Hans Public School, here, 45 km from Azamgarh district headquarters.
Many poor parents prefer to send their children to Rajbhar's school, though he has only passed standard 11 (Photo: IANS)
Sitting with dozens of students on gunny bags in a small rented shop in the freezing temperatures of January, the man is the very face of relentless resolve.
"Earlier I used to think that I could not do anything, but I wanted to move on from that feeling. So I started to teach children," says Rajbhar.
"If you have unflinching determination and follow the right path with steadfastness then you can do it and nobody can stop you," he says, his eyes gleaming.
Rajbhar has been teaching since 1982 and set up his own school in 2006. "Earlier there were more students because I had a three-room school. But now I teach only 45 students as there is not much space."
Mahuwara Khurd, 240 km from Lucknow, has a population of 4,000 people -- 70 percent Muslim. The village has a government-run primary school and one Islamiya primary school, but the poor households prefer sending their children to him for "quality" education.
Ramashankar Yadav, a villager, is one of those parents. "I send my two children to him for better education. I am not worried if they sit on floor," says Yadav, a farmer.
"I can send them to a government school where they can have the mid-day meals, but I found better quality of education here," Yadav added.
The fee is a nominal Rs.30 per student and if two kids come from the same household, they have to pay for only one. The school is till Class 5.
Talking about his journey from the 'accident' to 'education', Rajbhar says he felt helpless after the incident.
"Except for my mother, nobody was there to take care of me. My father was working in Kolkata and elder brother was in Delhi. An untrained doctor, who also happened to be a wrestler, fixed my broken thigh bone.
"But after two days, I experienced excruciating pain. My cousins rushed me to Azamgarh, where the doctors referred me to Mau district. After 14 days, I was finally admitted to a Varanasi hospital," he says.
But it was too late. The leg had to be amputated.
He couldn't go to school for a year. When he started going again, it was taking him a painful one hour against the earlier 20 minutes. He finally dropped out due to lack of resources and his health problems.
"I am not highly educated, but I want to educate my children," said Rajbhar, who has five children -- four daughters and one son. His eldest daughter is studying in the Class 11.
Rajbhar receives handicapped pension of Rs.1,800 every six months. "It is hard to survive in these times of inflation, but what option do I have?" he asks.
"I can't even work on fields; so let me light the lamp of education," said a determined Rajbhar. - IANS