In one ghat there is a cook-house Mora / in another ghat we eat / Mod's house is not a house; / All the world's houses are Mod's / All people are brothers.
This popular verse reminds one of the Vedic notions of those who are nomads. There was a time when river gypsies did not have a specific home. They spend days on the rive on their boats, which was their home.
River gypsies used to wander from one place to another. Their only livelihood was catching snakes, playing snake games, playing horns, selling Kabiraji medicines, bangles and ribbons. The women of this society are the main earners. They have to take care of the world.
Their culture or their way of life is that they keep snakes in boxes and walk around the city and use them to display snake games. In exchange for showing the game, they receive money from people. They are decorated with bangles of different colours for sale. Besides, they are seen more before different festivals like Bengali New Year (Pahela Baishakh), Pahela Falgun, and Eid.
But with the passage of time, the river gypsies have changed. Some have changed their profession, their way of life. Today, breaking their ancient tradition, many have started living in modern buildings, Pucca and tin-shed houses. Men are also working nowadays. Some of them drive rickshaws, some are garment workers and some are working tea shops in Veda Palli. This is their new life.
Unfortunately, most of the river gypsies' children are neglected while they grow up in the countryside, where education is a bit of a dream.
The environment of the river gypsies countryside is different from all other environments. Most children growing up in an environment where nobody has care of the world end up with no future. they grow up with no education, medical care, nor do they have access to social values.
That is why a voluntary organisation called 'Alokito Shishu' has stood by these deprived and neglected children to bring back the light of their lives.
'Alokito Shishu' is spreading the light of education among the children and adolescents of this river gypsies village. 'Alokito Shishu' inaugurated two schools in Sirajdikhan upazila of Munshiganj and river gypsies village in Natore city for these neglected children.
'Alokito Shishu' is educating 150 children and adolescents from river gypsies Palli in 2 districts of Bangladesh from play to 8th grade every day from 10 am to 1 pm. And keeping Fridays and Saturdays as weekly holidays. And there are 4 teachers in 2 districts. All these neglected children are given lessons in Bengali, English, Mathematics, Society, Religion, Science like in general schools.
Moreover, these volunteer organisers not only teach these neglected children but also provide textbooks, notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, etc. to the children of these river gypsies. They also occasionally organise different meals for these children.
When the whole world is in a state of turmoil in such a big epidemic like Covid-19. Even though many educational institutions have been closed down, the voluntary organisation 'Alokito Shishu' has been continuing its activities in compliance with all the rules and regulations.
Mithun Das, the founder of 'Alokito Shishu', said that he would appreciate other organisations to join in to ensure higher education for these neglected children so that the quality of life of these children in the river gypsies countryside can be improved.
'Alokito Shishu' through this initiative has created the possibility of a new light in Bangladesh. It will play a unique role in building an educated Bangladesh in the future. Today's children are the leaders of tomorrow's Bangladesh.