The New Life Centre School is ten years old this year and in that time has grown from 35 children to 450. The children in this district of West Bengal are exceptionally lucky to have Alindra Naskar, the Principal of the school living in their community, as this means that they can have a good education.
"Education is the birthright of every child" Alindra says. He never turns a child away, no matter how little the parents can pay. This area is beautiful as you can see, for its simplicity and rural life, but the other side of that is low employment and very low wages for menial work. As the parents of the school are on the whole uneducated their income is poor, but this does not mean that they undervalue education for their children, as shown by the school roll.
The main areas of employment are fisheries and brick factories, but the majority of the parents of the school live from hand to mouth, working in local shops and fields for very little pay.
For that reason the Sponsorship scheme in the school is vital to supplement the fees that are collected. Every parent makes some contribution, no matter how small, as people do not appreciate what is free according to Alindra; but it is essential that the next generation is given a chance, an opportunity to rise above the subsistence level of their parents.
I am giving you the opportunity today to raise these children’s expectations.
We express our hearty thanks for all that you have been doing for us during the years.
We are the most senior students of FR. ANTE GABRIC MEMORIAL SCHOOL, under the management of NEW LIFE CENTRE, on the delta of Sundarbans, West Bengal, INDIA.
We are studying in this school from very early childhood from Lower Kindergarten and now are the students of IX & X and our average age group is from 13+ to 15+ years. We will be very fortunate to receive quality education and achieve so much good things in life from this school.
We were in the group of only 39 students on 5th June 2005, when our school was just inaugurated and now we are in the group of 450 students. We want to go a long way in our academic career and would wish all the other younger ones following us should transform into better life as we are in ahead.
Therefore on behalf of all the students, we appeal to all respected elders, please help us to put up more classrooms on the top of upcoming building in front where we are standing.
The Founder & Director of our Institution Mr. Alindra Naskar sacrificed all he had possessed to bring up this institution. His aim and objective is to bring up this as a model educational institution and keep open a door of hope for many least fortunate children.
We feel proud and happy to let you know all about us and submit before you our appeal for your kind support.
Thank you so much to you all
With Our Heartfelt Regards
The Senior Students of FR. ANTE GABRIC MEMORIAL SCHOOLUnder the management of NEW LIFE CENTRE.
Alindra Naskar started a school in a small village in West Bengal in 2005 with 35 children. Today there are about 450.
His 'New Life Centre' school has recently been awarded Secondary school status and this will have a huge impact on its future.
It has taken him years to have this status confirmed, involving many visits to government departments and numerous forms to be filled in, but following his vision of educating the children of this poor region, Alindra has been relentless in this pursuit.
This will mean that the children in his school, such as these older boys, will not have to transfer to the government school where 90% of them leave without any qualifications, but can stay at the New Life Centre and leave with qualifications, equipped to sustain themselves and their families.
By comparison, the government schools in this region of West Bengal appear woefully equipped and are left to their own devices. The New Life Centre provides a higher standard of education and a better chance of securing further education should these children want it.
This is the whole point; education is the key to a better future and Alindra has made that possible for these children who until now had little hope of escaping the poverty trap.
Wouldn’t you like to join with us and help create a better future for these children?
My 25 year old daughter accompanied me for the first time to the New Life Centre school in India in February. When we entered the kindergarten classes on the first day, she was bemused that some of the 3 and 4 year olds started to cry as soon as we appeared. ‘What’s wrong Mum’ she asked? ‘They haven’t seen many white people’ I replied, ‘and anyway they are all so young some of them haven’t got used to school yet at all’. The teachers confirmed that a couple of the children still cried each morning when their parents left. My daughter was perturbed until I remarked, ‘Just like you were’!
The little girl in the photo at the front with a hat on was one of those finding it hard to settle at school. She had a captivating face, large eyes that surveyed us suspiciously. This was at the end of a school day, and whilst we waited for some of the parents we sang ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’.
All of the other children joined in as you can see and delighted in the song, but our little one remained serious and unsmiling. The more we tried to engage with her, the more she refused to be involved, and yet she couldn’t help herself from watching with interest as her schoolmates joined in.
I know that next time I visit, our wary little one will be amongst those eager to shake our hands in the morning as we arrive for school. I gain far more from my visits to this remarkable institution than I ever give. My life has been enriched by my contact with these children, who behave just like all other young ones, but because of this school they are well on their way to reaching their potential.
Wouldn’t you like to be enriched by helping this school?
There are some activities that are universal and dancing is one of them. When I visited the New Life Centre School in February there were two occasions when dancing united two groups that have grown up in such different circumstances.
The first was when our group of 4 visitors from the UK attempted to teach some of the older students Scottish dancing.
After the usual giggling and awkwardness as some boys had to partner other boys and hold hands, (also universal), we realised just how much fun can be gained from music and dancing. We had 2 lessons to teach the Gay Gordons, no small feat, as the walking backwards proved impossible to some of the students.
As I was instructing from the side I watched with amusement as one of the boys, a typical macho type with a great sense of rhythm, refused to hold another boy’s hands. He came to stand with me but he understood very quickly how the backward walking should be performed. Such a dilemma! What should he do? Lose face and enter the group again to ‘show them how it should be done’, or stand on the side knowing he could be top student in this activity?
He couldn’t resist and was soon demonstrating with me, a natural performer!
The second occasion was on our usual visit to one of the families in the school. This was my fourth visit to this family. This extended family of grandparents, parents, and children with numerous cousins and aunties and uncles offered the generosity of their simple fare and then two of the young girls started dancing for us. In a spontaneous moment, which I no longer encounter in the UK, we all started to dance, such a joyous affirmation of our delight in being invited and our hosts’ inclusivity.
We all held hands and danced around. I looked at my daughter and another member of the group of similar age, mid twenties, to see if this unusual display would embarrass them. On the contrary they were relishing this innocent pleasure. They both believed it was a highlight of the visit.
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