Meet Sarbashree Suryasnata and Bhubana Majhi, inmates of Madhurmayee, an orphanage for children of undertrial prisoners, who have changed the world around them through education!
She is 21 and topped her college by securing 78 percent in her graduation exams recently. But this isn’t what sets Sarbashree Suryasnata apart from the rest. When she was barely four, Sarbashree saw both her parents getting arrested for murder. But life gave her a second chance when she was brought to Madhurmayee, an orphanage for children of under trial prisoners (UTPs) in the capital. She hasn’t looked back ever since. Having completed her schooling with flying colours and now a graduate, she has not only brought laurels to her college but has become an inspiration for her fellow inmates in the orphanage. Sarbashree is now focused to become a teacher so that she can teach underprivileged children for free.
Sarbashree is an example of how one can create a bright future for oneself notwithstanding how difficult the past has been. Recalling her eventful journey, she tells MCL, “When I was four years old, in a communal dispute, my father and my mother were arrested, allegedly in a murder case. That time I had just started my school. But suddenly life came to a standstill. My parents had been arrested; I had stopped going to school and me and my two siblings were at home with none to take care of us.”
She further adds, “As I was very small, I cannot clearly recall the entire situation but I can remember that for some days we did not get food every day. Then my two siblings went to my uncle’s (father’s younger brother) house while I lived with my aunt (mother’s sister) for a while. But I could not continue my school there for many reasons. A year later, I finally came to Madhurmayee, Bhubaneswar and since then life has been different and much more stable.”
Sarbashree recalls, “Initially, I could not cope up with the new environment but gradually, with the help of the hostel in-charge Niroja Mohapatra, I managed to forget my past and continued with my studies. I had to make lot of efforts to overcome the past disturbances and focus on my education.”
Explaining how she used to toil hard every day, she tells us, “Everyday, I used to spend at least five to six hours in a day to study. And in 7th class, when I got selected for scholarship examination, I felt very happy and also encouraged to do better in my studies. So, I further increased my practice time and started securing a good rank in each class. However, topping the graduation final examination has been something I will cherish for all times to come.”
So, why does she want to become a teacher, we ask her. “I always wanted to study but I faced many obstacles in my life. The reason I want to become a teacher is because I want to teach underprivileged children without any fees so that they don’t miss out on the benefits of education. Teachers play a vital role in making the future of students and I want to help those children who are not able to study due to financial constraints,” she sums up, the confidence reflecting in her eyes.
Similar is the story of her fellow inmate Bhubana Majhi, who too has achieved remarkable success in his matriculation exams despite the fact that life hasn’t been easy for him. Bhubana was barely five when his father killed his mother accidentally and his life was shattered.
“It was an accident, I know because ours was a happy family. But because of a small dispute, my father accidentally killed my mother and I was just five then. My father was arrested. My relatives were reluctant to keep me with them and I was brought to Bhubaneswar on my class teacher’s recommendation. He was sure that I could do well in life if I get a scope to study.”
Though he was brought to Bhubaneswar, the shadow of the past continued to haunt him. There was no end to the problems as he had to face social stigma during the initial days. “Although I have come far away from all those situations, the harsh memories are still fresh in my heart. But I made the memories my strength. Initially, everyone used to stay away from me and no one wanted to be my friend. However, my teachers helped a lot as I studied well. Then all came on their own to be my friend,” says Bhubana, a student of Unit III Boys High School.
Despite the hardships in his life, he is never ashamed of it. “Although I face problems for my identity, I never feel bad about it. My father was arrested for murder but I do not think he is the culprit because according to me, the real culprit was poverty for which they fought frequently. He did not kill her intentionally, it was an accident. Sometimes I go to meet him and he is very happy with my result,” he adds.
Bhubana too has thought about his future. He wants to become a police constable. “They put in a lot of hard work. I want to become a constable and work from the ground level for the society,” he says.
Currently, Madhurmayee is celebrating the success of both the children. Head Niroja Mohapatra tells us, “Both of them were very sincere from the beginning. As they were brought here from a very early age, we worked hard on them to bring them up in a disciplined manner. Since both were inclined towards studies and were sincere, they were able to achieve good results. Both of them have set an example for their fellow inmates. Besides studies, they are good in extracurricular activities too.”
She further adds, “There are many other children like these two who can do really well in life if given proper guidance. For example, both the siblings of Sarbashree are working as wage labourers due to lack of guidance. So, if given the right attention, many children can carve a bright future for themselves and I am hopeful many other inmates of Madhurmayee will also script their own success stories in future just like Bhubana and Sarbashree.”