Essay by Sangita Sarkar
I believe that every child has the right to education.
It was December 2005. Exhausted from the transatlantic journey from the U.S., I threw myself on the calloused yet welcoming bed in my grandparents’ bungalow nestled in the bustling city of Calcutta, India. My eyes met with a shy but curious pair of eyes belonging to a servant girl named Mira. She swept the floors with her head lowered- her ashy face with hopelessness written all over it. From my grandfather, I learned that Mira was both an orphan and a primary school dropout working for just fifteen rupees a day to support herself and three younger brothers. During my short stay in the chaotic and developing country, my eyes were painfully opened to a world where a lack of access to education forced the less fortunate into servitude and poverty. Feeling so privileged to attend college and benefit from the opportunities it provided me, I promised myself that I would find ways to change what I witnessed that December.
March 2009. After graduating from college, I spent a few months in Calcutta working with the Missionaries of Charity, more specifically at Mother Teresa’s orphanage. My daily responsibilities included tutoring elementary-age children in English and looking after their daily needs. While the unfamiliar and often hectic environment posed a challenge, it was the gratifying smile from the kids that kept me going back every day. By conversing with them in the mother tongue of Bengali, I was able to relate to their experiences and provide them an incentive to keep working towards their dreams. A few weeks into the program, I saw Mira- this time walking with her head high and opening up to me about her desire to become a teacher. Because I believe every child has the right to education, I will continue to contribute to this cause to give orphaned children, like Mira, a second chance to a brighter future. This I believe.