Not ordinary kids, Jahangir Hossain, Jamil Ahmed and Kanjud Alam dare the notorious floods of Assam to reach school. Being from the same village, these children fight all odds to be on time at their school regularly.
The trio are from Haor village in Assam’s Cachar district, located in Katigora area. Monsoons wrecks havoc every year that leaves the area inundated for almost six months. Not deterred by the yearly calamity, the thirst for knowledge and education among these munchkins is so strong that they fight even harshest of the monsoon flooding to be at their schools as regularly as possible.
But, do they walk or cycle to their schools during the monsoons?
Well, considering how dreadful monsoons in Assam can be, with the wrath of Brahmaputra river flooding many small villages, there is no question of walking or using vehicular transport during these months. Instead, these kids travel to their schools in boats. Yes, you hear that right.
However, not all the students can afford boats to ferry them to school regularly. So, these kids take along many school friends on a boat ride during the monsoons. Not just students, even teachers travel to the school regularly on boats.
This is not an isolated case. Many other schools in Haor have been functioning in a similar manner for years now. Most of these schools just have only one room, where students from standard one to five are seated beside each other. And once their classes are over, these innocent little kids start playing with the boats – who will seat themselves in what positions and who will be responsible for rowing the boats.
Well, although these kids make such arrangements look simple, the reality is way too harsh. Katigora lies on the banks of river Sinjuri, with numerous river canals and tributaries crisscrossing the entire plain. Needless to say, the entire area gets flooded during the monsoons, with the schools – which are mostly built on an elevated plain – being like little river islands. Some of the kids have to row for as much as 20-25 minutes to reach the schools. And those schools which are not built on an elevated plain open for only about six months in a year.
While one may feel that these days are way too harsh for the kids, Musiur Rehman, principal of L.P. School, says that this time is way better as the students can directly row their boats into the school premises. Things tend to get worse in November-December, when the water level goes down. During this time, the students can neither row their boats nor walk due to the slushy and muddy conditions.
Many teachers also get irritated traveling to the schools on a daily basis during the monsoons, but some of the kids always seem to be full of energy, always ready to overcome the odds. According to Jamil Ahmed, who studies in fourth grade:
So what if there’s water? We have two boats, one for father and one for the kids. We row them to school. There’s no fear in rowing boats!