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How a small act of kindness can make a big impact in rural India - Part 1

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

With the official registration of ABN Foundation in 2017, we have formalised our community development efforts by adopting a school in Bengal and another school in Assam. We aim to help more schools through inspired teachers who want to improve the rural education system and effectively provide opportunities for eager students.

The below letter of appreciation written by Kalyan Mandal is self-explanatory. He is an exceptional young man who is starting his own school in his village, with a little help from well-wishers who believe in him and the work he is doing for his students.

Hello sir,

Thank you ABN team for your help and support. Thank you for everything that you have done for me and for my students and have been doing. I shall always remain grateful towards you. ABN has a very important role to create me and for you I am today in such a prestigious position. Let me thank you from bottom of my heart.

I am going to explain two stories separately. One of them is about how I have learned my English and the other one is what I am doing currently.

You have seen students or other boys and girls to have difficulties to speak English though they go to school. I was not different from them. I had faced the same difficulties. Moreover, it was more difficult as I live in a very remote village. But I got an extra opportunity to learn and speak good English. And that opportunity was given to me by ABN.

It was 2007 when the first boat of ABN known as Sukapha visited our village. Almost all the people from the village gathered near the river to see the boat and the foreigners. I was in class ix then. I was also among the people. I was always interested to learn and speak good English. But I couldn't then. I was the only one who showed up courage to try to speak to them. But I couldn't. I only knew two simple sentences. One of them is " What is your name?" And the other sentence is " How are you? " And this was my English that I could speak. Nothing more than that. I was so sad. I was feeling upset for my inability. I was not with me. I tried my best. But I had no idea how to speak. What I used to do was used to walk with the guests and tried to speak. The guests used to get off the boat at 08:30 am earlier and I used to go to the river bank as soon as I saw the ship arrived and waited for hours. And when they got off and started to walk towards the village, I joined them and started walking with them whether I could speak to them or not. Actually walking with them, watching them talking English, watching the guides talking to them and all these things were my inspiration. However, three years passed with only those two sentences. And I couldn't speak more than that.

But I never gave up hope of speaking English. I was so determined to learn and speak good English. And I wanted to do that as quick as I could have. And I did it and it took seven and half years. The turning point of my life came when Kunal Singh (whom I call as Kunal da), the Cruise Manager of Assam Bengal Navigation, came to my life. He is such an inspiration to me. He is my guide. At the beginning we didn't know each other. And after some visits, he had noticed me eagerness, interests and my will to learn English. I asked him how I can learn and speak good English. So he started helping me in all different ways. He bought me books, dictionary etc. And I started improving.

Once I was having problem to get admission in college. My parents were unable to arrange fees for my admission since they were trying to teach all my other brothers and sister. My cousin was also learning from here. However, I started believing that I couldn't get admission that year. Kunal da had given me his card and his contact number was in the card. My family didn't have any phone then. So I went to one of friend's house and asked her whether I could use his phone to call. So I took his phone and called Kunal da and explained all my difficulties and problems of getting admission to the college. He asked me what the admission charge was and it was Rs. 1,500/-. He came after two days with the guests and he gave me the fees and I took admission on the same day in the college. Otherwise, I might have stopped my study if he would not have helped me. Like this he has been helping me still now.

However, talking about my learning English. What I did after three years was learning again from the beginning. So I started learning grammar again by myself. Because grammar helped me to speak properly. Then I went through writing section. Because it gave me ideas about different things. Writing skills helped me to think about the topic. But I had still problems with my pronunciation. Others were finding it very difficult to understand my English because my pronunciation was disgusting. So I went through reading a lot. And now everyone can easily understand my English. So this is how I have learned. I have barely missed any chance to walk with the guests. I have always asked Kunal da and guides whenever I was having problem. And they always stood by me.

Continued in Part 2..



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