Doctor by day, teacher for slum children by noon (Feature)

August 7th, 2010 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS  

By Asit Srivastava
Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Aug 7 (IANS) Medical check-ups, vaccination and medicines are not the only things on offer at a paediatric clinic here. For, it doubles up as a classroom for impoverished children who learn to read and write, thanks to the good doctor.

Nandini Ghosh, 55, dons the role of a teacher at her Deep Clinic in the busy Gorakhnath area of Gorakhpur, some 300 km from Lucknow, to educate slum children and the kids of vegetable vendors and street hawkers.

Ghosh examines her patients at the clinic in the morning and evening, while in the afternoon she can be seen wielding a piece of chalk on a roll-down blackboard, as a bunch of children aged 3 to 13 soaks in knowledge of the Hindi or English alphabet.

“Teaching poor children gives me immense satisfaction. In fact, I can’t express it. I love the company of kids as for a while you forget about the worries that are common in today’s fast- paced life,” Ghosh told IANS on telephone from Gorakhpur.

“The majority of children whom I educate are those who have never gone to school as their parents take them to work in order to ensure that the family income comes from diverse sources,” she said.

So far Ghosh, who has two grownup children of her own - her husband is an eye surgeon - has educated over 300 children at her clinic. She even got several of them admitted in government-aided schools so they could continue their formal education.

It was in 2002 that Ghosh decided to teach the children at her clinic.

“Every time I would come to my clinic, I used to see small children helping their parents sell vegetables, fruits and other items on the road just in front of my clinic. I felt very sorry for the children and the idea of teaching them came to my mind,” said Ghosh.

It was not that easy for Ghosh. The most challenging job at that time was to convince the parents of the children to send their wards.

“Initially, when I approached the parents, they straightway said no…Though I was disappointed, I did not lose hope and persisted with my efforts. I decided to mix with the children, their parents and started buying their items on a regular basis.”

“Later, the same parents who had initially said no to my proposal started sharing their daily experiences and gradually I managed to convince them to send their children to my clinic,” said Ghosh.

She also meets the teachers of children who have been admitted to government-run schools for formal education with her help. At present there are around 30 students who are learning to read and write free of cost in Ghosh’s clinic.

Some family members of her patients also assist Ghosh in teaching the children.

Locals appreciate Ghosh a lot for her noble work.

“Despite her hectic schedule, Ghosh is very particular about her class. It reflects her sincerity and dedication,” said Gagan Shahi, a resident of Gorakhpur who owns a medical store.

Echoing similar sentiments, Utkarsh Rai, another resident, said, “She in a real sense is paying back society. We all should come forward to help Ghosh and people like her in their noble plans,” he added.

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at asit.s@ians.in)

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