A ray of hope for Mru children
Nestled in the forest land on Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Bandarban's Thanchi upazila lies Likri Para.
Reaching there can be quite taxing as it requires one to travel around 300 kilometres on foot for around four days when the Sangu river turns dry, or take a day-long boat ride after a day on foot.
This quaint little village is home to 37 Mru families.
Tucked away from the bustling district town, the place offers simplicity and contentment found in life's modest offerings. It's a haven with unhurried afternoons, with the pace of life matching the surrounding tranquility.
However, the early mornings offer a different scene. Children wake up to get ready and meet Shukrasen Chakma, a teacher who has single-handedly been running the neighbourhood's lone primary school.
Visiting the area recently, this correspondent saw children, with handwoven backpacks on their shoulders or books in their hands, running towards a small hut as the clock struck 8:00am.
They queued in front of the hut, singing the national anthem and was soon joined by a young man, hiding his difficulty to walk behind his warm and welcoming smile.
"I had to give up studying after completing 8th grade as my family could no longer afford my education. Children living in the hills are very talented and sharp and I want them to make the best out of their potentials," said Shukrasen, who left his home in Alisa Moni Para of Alikadam's Kuruk Pata union in 2017 and never returned.
Shukrasen used to teach children in his village. After leaving his village, he shifted to Bolupara for five years and then Panjhiri Para for the next two, before finally arriving at the Mru community in Likri Para.
Shukrasen's school, set up by Humanitarian Foundation, currently has 26 students enrolled from playgroup to grade four, while grade five will be operational soon.
With no school to educate, no road to connect, and no modern facilities to live better, the hill dwellers were living in the dark for last 53 years until Shukrasen came into their lives as a ray of hope, said locals.
"Overcoming his physical disabilities, Shukrasen took up the responsibility of running this school and has been doing it sincerely since the very beginning. We hope all hill children will have access to education some day through his efforts," said Muitong Mro Karbari, president of Likri Para Primary School Management Committee.