Birhor children enjoy lunch near Topchanchi Lake on Tuesday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Nearly 200 Birhor children from Chalkari village of Dhanbad’s Topchanchi block ended the year with the first picnic of their lives, thanks to a unique endeavour by a handful of students and teachers of DAV Public School-Dugda, Bokaro.
Twenty students of the Bokaro cradle, accompanied by principal Ashutosh Mairh, five senior teachers and parents, spent Tuesday with their guests on the banks of picturesque Topchanchi Lake, located about 37km from the district headquarters.
The children played kabaddi, kit kit, pitto and tug of war. Later, they were treated to a tasty lunch of pulao, dal, paneer ki sabji, gulab jamun, aloo dam, tamatar ki chatni and papad.
Principal Mairh said the picnic was organised to provide a platform, where his students and Birhor children could understand each other’s culture and tradition.
“Most importantly, these tribal children are deprived of quality education due to their poor socio-economic standard. This picnic is an attempt to bring them into the mainstream society,” said Mairh, one of the founders of Samvedna, a forum to address Birhor issues.
The principal said he was motivated to organise the gathering after some children of Chalkari village told him that they searched for leftovers along Topchanchi Lake after picnickers left.
“They urged us to organise a picnic for them and we did,” said Mairh.
The principal added that funds were raised though contributions from students, parents and teachers.
“We did not use school funds or infrastructure. We even came to the venue in our own vehicles,” he said.
The daylong outing also included a visit to the Mada filtration plant, where Mairh explained the purification mechanism to the children and apprised them of the importance of safe drinking water.
“For the first time, we participated in a picnic and enjoyed everything to the hilt,” said an excited Pradip Birhor (14), son of Chalkari village headman Bara Sukar.