A constable from Kolkata, Arup Mukherjee’s lifelong dream didn’t consist of luxurious comforts or worldly pleasures, instead, he aimed to provide a better life to the abandoned children of the Sabar tribe in West Bengal. Selflessly using up his savings, he set up a school to educate the little ones.
Established in Puncha, 50 km away from Purulia town, the Puncha Nabadisha Model School is now home to abandoned children belonging to the Sabar tribe.
42-year-old Mukherjee had grown up listening to stories about how the British referred to the Sabar tribe as the criminal tribe, and how they’ve been ignored ever since. He used his savings and his monthly salary to give a home to these needy children. A plot of land was donated by a local person, from where the two-room school began housing and nursing 20 students.
Started in 2011 with 2 rooms and a verandah, Mukherjee expanded the school into a 9-room establishment of 9000 sq. ft. including a separate kitchen, washroom and toilet. The entire school has CCTV surveillance and now houses 112 children. The school provides free food, education, clothes, stationery, uniforms, and lodging to children aged between 6 and 13 years.
Even after spending his savings and monthly salary, Mukherjee feels he hasn’t been able to provide good food to the children. Speaking to news agency ANI, he said, “I feel happy when these children call me daddy or baba. I started this school with 15-20 children now there are more than 100 of them. I spend Rs 45,000 every month here but I can’t provide them with good food as I don’t take any help from the government.”
Things brightened when Mukherjee received help in the form of charities after he was recognized in a Bengali television show and felicitated by former Indian cricketer and captain, Sourav Ganguly. He now receives help in cash and kind from a lot of people who share his belief of giving these children someplace they can call home, and illuminating their future.