It is not every day we get to hear a story like this. Bijoy Rahul Paul, whose father is a bicycle mechanic and mother works in a tea garden, was born into a life of hardship and had to drop out of secondary school due to poverty. Yet a decade on, we witness Paul running a community school for the underprivileged children of tea workers, so that they may never have to interrupt studies because money was in short supply. His journey to finish school was no mean feat. Having had to put in back breaking work for two years just to collect fees for SSC and then wait another four years to save up for HSC, his story is one of resolve and perseverance that stands apart from the norm.
Paul worked two jobs – one in the tea estate where his mother was employed and the other meant putting in hours daily to repair bicycles; this rigorous regime prepped him both physically and mentally to do what needed to be done to fulfil his dream of completing his education. Coming from a family where three square meals were not always guaranteed, we salute this young warrior who is now employed as a Mutation-cum-Certificate Assistant employed by the government.
The Chhota Dhamai Ideal Academy was set up in January, 2011 where some 60 children now study. The operational expenditure of the school comes out of his salary, as do the stipends for meritorious students. We applaud his efforts in achieving the unthinkable and hope that he and his institution will receive some recognition for making “education for all” a reality for the downtrodden in society.