The advantages of literacy are endless. From the destiny of an individual to the fate of a society, literacy can play a huge role in swaying both in the right direction. But, often, in the sheen of literacy we neglect the majority of those who are illiterate. Be it maids, local vendors or farmers. Despite their endless knowledge and experience, they are often denied the basic dignity, just because of their illiteracy. This might sound like a horrifying position to be in.
Now imagine the millions of frail, old women who are diseased and haunted by illiteracy.
Sensing the inability of these elder women, Motilal Dayaram charitable trust, along with Yogesh Bangar came up with a solution for this. They setup a school for the elderly women who were not able to attend school in their youth, with an aim to bring happiness into their lives and to push the literacy rate of their village to 100%.
AajiBaichi, which literally translates to Grandmother’s school in Marathi, has been in operation since March 8, the International Women’s day, this year in Phangane, Thane. Presently, the school has 28 students who attend classes for two hours every day in a vibrant pink sari as a uniform. “We started this school to inculcate love and respect for the elderly,” Dilip Dalal, the founder of the Trust told Firstpost. Yogendra Bangar – whose brain child the school is – says that “Everybody in the village encouraged us. No one said a thing against the school. They said that nobody has done something like this before. Whatever you are doing is good for the society. We are with you.”
And it is this community support that has helped in the rapid development of the school. The grannies gleefully share their experiences with everyone and discuss how big an impact the school has made on their lives. They believe that it has given them an extra bonding time with their grandkids as they study together. One elderly woman expressed that earlier she felt like a ripe fruit, ready to fall off the branch at any time. She had lived her entire life with dejection because of illiteracy. But she never wanted to die an illiterate. Aajibaichi has helped her achieve this dream. It has showed many others like her that the last innings of one’s life is actually just a starting point. It is a gateway to a world of more exciting experiences and the grandmother’s school in Thane is concrete evidence to that.
SHREYA DUTTA | TOC
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