Wednesday 8 May 2019
Imagine having a toddy shop right next to a school! No child would want that, but the children of MPUP School in Balusutippa had been facing this problem for more than a decade. The overpowering stench emanated from the shop to such an extent that children often had to cover their nose while attending classes.Apart from this, the children also avoided going to the playground next to the shop as they would often encounter drunkards.
Shivani, a student of class 7th stated, “We all were scared of the people like those in drunken stupor would often cross our path, swearing and hurling abuses. The area was also a complete mess with bottles and filth strewn all over the place and sometimes in our school compound as well”.
Children were helpless and had no option but to tolerate all this, they had made numerous complaints to their teachers but no action was taken as the teachers were themselves helpless. Yedukondal, a teacher said, “We were up against a powerful group of men, the presence of water tanker in the vicinity provided them with a perfect cover for the toddy shop and so they were reluctant to move”.
The school even approached the local police and authorities with their problem but nothing worked and children had to go through the daily ordeal. As a consequence of this, the school saw a dip in the attendance and higher rate of drop-outs among children.
Just when everyone had almost given up all hopes, representatives from Save the Children and our partner NGO met the children and understood the whole problem. The representatives immediately swung into action, the solution that they had to this problem was to instil a sense of confidence in every child and put them in a lead role by forming a children’s group.
The representatives made the children understand the illegal aspect of the location of the shop next to school premises, so this time the children took up the matter with the local authorities and the police. Regular intervention by our representatives and monthly meeting of the children group made the children understand their rights. One fine day the children called up 100 and within a day a posse of cops arrived at the location and dismantled the toddy shop. The shop is no longer there and children now freely attend their classes in peace.