Open air theatres are common in many universities and up market schools. Students gather in open air theatre or amphitheatre to have fun and to entertain by taking a break from air-conditioned well-equipped classrooms. But here is a feature of a school by name ‘Muktakash’, meaning Open Sky in Hindi that has come up to educate street dwelling children who are deprived of formal education as their parents are predominantly sex workers, alcoholics or domestic workers who utterly fail in playing their parental responsibilities. Open Sky or Muktakash is an innovative concept to teach street kids on footpaths of Kolkata city by a group of volunteers through an NGO, whose sub caption says—“Let their dream touch the sky”.
The Modus operandi of Muktakash
Every day by 4:30 P.M, group of children gather with their carpets, text books and note books on the pedestrian path of Vivekanand road in a locality called Hatibagan of Kolkata city. They are least bothered about the zooming vehicles, pedestrians and traffic chaos of typical Indian roads and just concentrate on academics.
Paul Soham, youngster who initiated this service in the year 2015 to create discipline, social ethics and nurture nitty-gritty of society amongst otherwise vagabond children resorting to begging in Hatibagan locality, summarizes their objective as follows—“We take the children beyond books, by preparing breakfast for their schools, encourage them to participate in yoga, crafts, arts, dance and other forms of education.” The most important accomplishment of the team Muktakash conducts health camps and enrols these street kids to formal schools and even support some of them to take up private tuitions. The volunteers aggregate the major chunk of funding for the mission by self.
Mousami Mitra a middle aged volunteer who teaches these students from 4:30 P.M to 7:30 P.M Monday to Saturday on a regular basis admires the grasping capability of the children. Though she agrees that teaching on streets without proper infrastructure is an uphill task, the commitment of students prompts her to brush aside the lacunae. She even points out that short-day during the winter season and rainy season throws a greater challenge in the conduction of classes. Most importantly she is overwhelmed by the feedback she receives from the citizens regarding the tamed behaviour of these kids who were otherwise known for unruly acts.
Another volunteer, a young lady Arpita Banerjee brings out two important facts: 1) According to her, these street-kids are most undemanding children she has ever come across in her life! (She is 100 percent correct in her opinion as current days kids demand a lot from their parents.) 2) The pedestrians and commuters on vehicles pass various kinds of negative remarks on these kids and teachers. But she adds that both students and volunteers take these comments philosophically and ignore them.
Muktakash Facebook page available at https://www.facebook.com/Muktakash-533191290170759/ Provides hundreds of photographs depicting the activities carried out by Open Sky covering new year celebrations, Durga Pooja, Magic Shows, Sports meet, Birthdays, Health Camps and much more.
Kalam Fan Club is proud of Muktakash team for becoming a beacon of light for needy kids of the city of Kolkata from where the founder of Shantiniketan School and greatest poet Sri. Rabindranath Tagore hails from.