The Rathiapala primary school where Binodini works as a teacher, has a student strength of 53. It is located across Sapua river, approximately 3 km away from her home in Jaripal village of Hindol block in Dhenkanal district.
Binodini was appointed as a Ganasikshyak (contract-based teachers appointed by Odisha school and mass education department) in 2008. Initially her salary was ₹1,700 which increased to mere ₹7,000 in 11 years. “I should have been getting a monthly salary of ₹ 27,000 for the last 3 years, but I am yet to get it,”- says Samal, whose service is not yet regularized, despite of her commitment and sincerity.
The Sapua river is dry in Summer, but in monsoon, the river gets deep and swollen with vigorous currents. Binodini is a good swimmer but she has been washed away on several occasions. “Two years ago, I was thrown off-balance by the river current and drifted away for some time till I found solid ground. That day my vanity bag was completely wet,” she said.
Samal is not married and stays with her brother and sister-in-law, who do not approve of her swimming through the river. “I don’t tell them about the risks I have to undertake. For me, work matters more than anything else. What would I do sitting at home?”- Samal said.
She added; “I always keep a spare set of saree, petticoat and blouse in school almirah. While crossing the river, I keep my mobile phone and other necessary items in a plastic bag and keep it overhead while swimming through the river. I change into the school uniform of pink saree after reaching school all wet and soggy. I repeat the routine while going home. Even though I have fallen sick sometimes, I have never taken a day off.”
“A Good Teacher is like a candle; it consumes itself to light the way for others”- said Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey.
Binodini has set an example for the world to follow. Kudos to her diligent efforts and commitment towards work. More power to her.
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