Narrated by Ashok Majhi, 16 years, YRC, Swapno, Namkhana
Recorded by Binita Chakraborty, 5th May, 2013. Please see the brief note on MSC for a background on the process.
I live in a village in the Namkhana Block of the Sundarban area. It is few kilometers walk along a dirt track that leads from the highway. A lovely little river called Chinai flows by here. Our village is very beautiful.
At home, we are four people – my parents, me, and my younger sister. My father has a business of growing betel leaves and my mother is a homemaker. I am in class XI, my sister is in class VI. I go to the Union High School located in another village called Shibnagar Abaad. It was through my school that I got associated with a group called Swapno [Bengali: "Dream"]. We meet in Shibnagar Abad every Saturday after school hours.
The most significant change for me has been seeing my dream for a health centre in my village come true with the help of my group and family.
In the past three months, we have been doing an interesting activity in our group, called Neighbourhood Diaries. While noting down what dreams I had for my neighbourhood, I had written that among the many things I wanted to build in my village, the most important was a hospital. People from our village have to travel a long way to another village called Dwariknagar for the nearest hospital. It is hard to transport people who are very ill, and it is also very difficult to negotiate the dirt track which becomes muddy in the monsoons. Some years ago when my cousin sister was ill and being rushed to the hospital, she died on the way. I can never forget this. So my dream is to build our own hospital. Earlier there had been an initiative to build a health centre here. But it was planned on low land, and half way through the construction the embankment had broken and the construction site was flooded. A lot of resources were needed to raise the land and neither the community nor the Panchayat could raise enough funds. So much to our disappointment the project was abandoned. When some months back I heard of the YRC group from my friends and joined, I started liking it a lot. I began to attend group meetings regularly. During this time, I had to face a lot of questions from friends and elders in my neighbourhood; "What group is this? What is the use? Do they pay you?" and many other such questions. I told them everything – what we do in the group, why I like going there. I talked about my group to my family too, to my grandparents and parents. Around this time, we organized a public event on the theme of our neighbourhood. Here I talked of my dreams and my feelings about my para, some in the form of poetry, publicly. My mother made an effort and attended this programme. Seeing our group members and learning about our group first hand made her very happy and she talked about us at home in glowing terms. After a while when I saw that people at home as well as those of our para had grown to believe in me, I told them about my dream: the dream to build a hospital. One important and influential Dadu [Village elder, "Grandfather"] of our village was also there. He has a soft corner for me and he was excited and inspired by the idea. He made an amazing suggestion. He offered to donate his land that was in a raised part of the village towards the cause of the health centre. The proposal was resubmitted to the village Panchayat along with this generous offer. A few months ago, the proposal was accepted and the process of building a health centre in our village has started!
|Construction in progress, June 2013|