On the banks of the Hooghly (or Lower Ganges) river in Bengal rests Baranagar – a former 17th century Dutch river anchorage that’s today just a sleepy village. It is here where Kalyan Mandal’s story began; this then fortuitously collided with the establishment of ABN Foundation, the charity that Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN) operates to support environmental, education and local community development efforts in the region of Assam and Bengal.
As a young schoolboy, Kalyan was always curious to learn English. When ABN Sukapha first landed on the banks of Baranagar in 2007, Kalyan went out of his way to befriend tourists and try his hand at English. As the years rolled by, this was his only way of improving his English. The turning point in his story came when ABN Manager, Kunal Singh, took a personal interest in the young man's journey. Encouraging him to continue his studies after high school, Kunal not only paid for Kalyan's college admission fees, but also supported him by buying his textbooks and the like.
After graduating from College, Kalyan knew that he wanted to become an English teacher – it was something that he didn’t need to consider even for a second. Starting with a single student, he added many more over the years, the youngest being all of 6 years old and the oldest being a 80+ year old retired government official. But, Kalyan’s modest classroom was bursting at its seams as more and more students joined. This is when ABN stepped in to help Kalyan continue his dream of sharing his passion for education. Through the ABN Foundation – where 5% of each cabin booked by a guest gets contributed to the charity – ABN was able to construct the Baranagar English Tuition Centre, which today hosts more than 285 students.
In 2019, Kalyan inaugurated his brand-new private tuition centre amid rounds of applause and cheers from ABN guests and crew members. Just as Kalyan improved his English and boosted his confidence through interactions with ABN guests when he was a schoolboy himself, so too do students at Kalyan’s tuition centre have the same opportunity to sharpen their language skills when ABN guests visit them. Many ABN guests choose to engage with Kalyan’s students, whether it’s by sharing a lesson on general knowledge of their country, or teaching music and dance class – and it always makes for an enriching cultural exchange between both the students and guests.
ABN is extremely proud to be able to support Kalyan and his passion for education, which directly helps to improve the lives of so many others in Baranagar and surrounding areas. We are thrilled to be a small part of Kalyan’s journey to becoming an incredible educator, and are always on the lookout to support more changemakers like him.