Blooming Away To a Brighter Future – Assam’s Uttam Teron Paving the Way for All Underprivileged Children
While Assam is known for its beautiful tea plantations and wildlife, there’s more to discover such as Uttam’s ‘Parijat Academy’ a schooling academy in the form of an NPO educating every kid for free who knocks on their doors. Parijat in literal terms means a ‘celestial flower’ just as the innocent children who need to be nurtured into beautiful flowers. Thus, the name of Uttam’s Academy.
Originating from the village of Pamohi, Kamrup district of the state, Uttam lived a simple life since the very beginning. Wandering aimlessly around with his friends in the neighborhood and passing his time was what Uttam’s routine looked like along with occasionally collecting and selling firewood.
What turned the tide of his routine world was when one of these days, he came across a few kids playing with water and dirt on one of his treks. The thought was instant when it struck him that ‘these kids should be at school’. Although, them being in school was what needed to happen and like many other kids out there out of school, one of the reasons for that was due to being under-privileged or from economically backward families. This meant a lot of families not being able to provide for an education for their children.
This disconnect from what a child should be doing and what they aren’t able to achieve due to financial constraints made Uttam take things in his own hand. He without another thought went over to the children’s homes and asked their respective families to send them over to his house where he would teach them.
Turning a part of his home, the cowshed into a classroom, Uttam began his teaching to the young children he sought. While the young minds read and learnt, his mother would cook food for them and so the journey started.
2003 came and so did the start to Uttam’s ‘Parijat Academy’. Almost 20 years down the line and the academy has grown educating over 400 children all for free. Being a non-profit organization, children everywhere are welcome and so the school currently provides free education to children from around 20 villages. At the same time, for children from remote parts of the state, accommodation facilities for them are also provided with the current intake at 60.
Built on an ancestral property of 20,000 sq. feet area, the school is equipped with departments for computer learning, sewing and handloom areas, classrooms for studying, libraries, sports and dance activity areas to accommodation facilities.
While this wasn’t the initial plan for Uttam wherein he thought after a few years of the school education given to the children, he could enroll them in other government schools but with the faith and belief of
the parents, things changed and it all was something he felt responsible for and widened the scale of the academy instead, opening more doors and more facilities for the children.
The students are given free education which is good enough but additionally are provided more skill development activities to be able to actually generate an income from the things they learn. Thus, the handloom and sewing departments, along with agricultural training, computer training, etc.
As much as there is the education and individual building aspect in terms of skill development, there are also fun activities that the school partakes in such as drama, treks, survival training camps, amongst many.
That being said, running an institution as big as Parijat and as an NPO is quite difficult. There is the help of volunteers within India and outside of it that often come help the children in various activities. Even so, it isn’t easy to get help from various institutions. Like he mentions, that of the 100 emails that he sends, he receives help from a mere 2-3 places. Managing the school expenses along with that of the teachers’ honorarium is quite a struggle.
Nevertheless, Uttam doesn’t plan on backing out. He continues, to this day and after manage the Parijat Academy and only grow it bigger as an educational home that he has created for the children in his school. The vision never being lost which is to improve the lifestyle and the community of children belonging to underprivileged families. Them being nurtured and provided a bright future is at the heart of Uttam’s cause.