It was the evening of 1968. A 19-year old diagnosed with tuberculosis and given only 6 months by a doctor to live, was seen lying on the sidewalk of Kalighat, adjacent to Mother Teresa’s Nirmal Hriday. He had run away from his family as he didn’t want them to catch the deadly disease too. A nun from Nirmal Hriday had given him a blanket and made a place for him on the pavement to stay. Spending four nights on the pavement, before being found by his family, with open skies above and street dwellers beside him, Mr. Arup Sengupta, the future Founder Trustee of Notun Jibon, had realized that there was essentially no difference between people, rich or poor. The seed of philanthropy had taken its roots. Notun Jibon is a non-profit organization which schools the street children in parts of Kolkata. Started in 2016, its primary focus is to provide remedial education to street children up to the fourth standard so that they can get admitted to the fifth standard in some good schools. The organization works for children of 3-12 years of age. Every month around 250 children are taken care of by the organization. Under the existing system of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in West Bengal, the poor children are provided mid-day meals and looked after by Anganwadi workers who, having only a basic education, cannot impart sound education to the children.
The education that these children receive in these Anganwadi centers is not sufficient at all to get them admission into a standard school. Moreover, the children in these centers are promoted to subsequent classes without being evaluated in exams, which further hampers their learning process. Notun Jibon imparts these children quality remedial education and healthy meals. The school has been set up in Kalighat area on a piece of land donated by Aghor Dutta Junior Sporting Club. The children of local sex workers are taught there. The school has local civilians, all of whom are graduates, as teachers. The meal costs Rs. 22 per child. It comprises of 4 slices of big sandwich bread or 3 chapatis, egg gravy, 250 ml milk and a banana each. Milk and banana are fixtures in the menu. The school presently teaches 40 children. Classes are conducted for a 20-day period in a month. Classes start at 5 pm every day. In the first half an hour, physical training and yoga are taught to the children, after which the regular classes commence. The organization also takes care of 86 street children in the stretch of road between Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Jagat Sudhar in Rash Behari Avenue and Keoratala burning ghat. At times, the mothers of these children sit around them and learn with them too. All the children under its care are provided new clothing on festivities and other essentials like school bags, uniforms, socks, and shoes, etc. year-round. All the funding needed to run the organization is raised privately from the friends of trustees and well-wishers.
Tags: Arup Sengupta | Notun Jibon | Future Founder Trustee | Non-Profit Organization | Kolkata | ICDS