Mahuwara Khurd (Azamgarh): He can't walk without support but that hasn't stopped Amarnath Rajbhar from helping others stand on their own feet. The
physically challenged man has set a milestone in the field of
education in this Uttar Pradesh village by running a school for
The 45-year-old man lost his left leg in 1973 while practising
long jump at the age of 10. Today, the 11th-pass runs a school,
Gyan Hans Public School, here, 45 km from Azamgarh district
Sitting with dozens of students on gunny bags in a small rented
shop in the freezing temperatures of January, the man is the very
face of relentless resolve.
"Earlier I used to think that I could not do anything, but I
wanted to move on from that feeling. So I started to teach
children," Rajbhar told IANS.
"If you have unflinching determination and follow the right path
with steadfastness then you can do it and nobody can stop you," he
says, his eyes gleaming.
Rajbhar has been teaching since 1982 and set up his own school in
2006. "Earlier there were more students because I had a three-room
school. But now I teach only 45 students as there is not much
Mahuwara Khurd, 240 km from Lucknow, has a population of 4,000
people -- 70 percent Muslim. The village has a government-run
primary school and one Islamiya primary school, but the poor
households prefer sending their children to him for "quality"
Ramashankar Yadav, a villager, is one of those parents. "I send my
two children to him for better education. I am not worried if they
sit on floor," says Yadav, a farmer.
"I can send them to a government school where they can have the
mid-day meals, but I found better quality of education here,"
The fee is a nominal Rs.30 per student and if two kids come from
the same household, they have to pay for only one. The school is
till Class 5.
Talking about his journey from the 'accident' to 'education',
Rajbhar says he felt helpless after the incident.
"Except for my mother, nobody was there to take care of me. My
father was working in Kolkata and elder brother was in Delhi. An
untrained doctor, who also happened to be a wrestler, fixed my
broken thigh bone.
"But after two days, I experienced excruciating pain. My cousins
rushed me to Azamgarh, where the doctors referred me to Mau
district. After 14 days, I was finally admitted to a Varanasi
hospital," he says.
But it was too late. The leg had to be amputated.
He couldn't go to school for a year. When he started going again,
it was taking him a painful one hour against the earlier 20
minutes. He finally dropped out due to lack of resources and his
"I am not highly educated, but I want to educate my children,"
said Rajbhar, who has five children -- four daughters and one son.
His eldest daughter is studying in the Class 11.
Rajbhar receives handicapped pension of Rs.1,800 every six months.
"It is hard to survive in these times of inflation, but what
option do I have?" he asks.
"I can't even work on fields; so let me light the lamp of
education," a determined Rajbhar told IANS.
(Abu Zafar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)