Lonwadi, a small village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, got its first vastishala (a makeshift primary school arranged by the government for villages that are far away from education facilities) in the year 2005. Mr. Ingle was appointed as the first teacher. Slowly, the vastishala was converted into a proper primary school and it was decided that one more teacher was needed.
But who would want to be posted in a remote village like Lonwadi? Surprisingly, there was one teacher who actually insisted that the authorities transfer him to this village. This teacher, who joined the primary school at Lonwadi in December 2005, was about to change things very soon.
The teacher’s name was Parsharam Narwade. Unlike most other government school teachers, he did not plan to teach just text book contents to the children of Lonwadi. His vision was to impart wisdom along with knowledge to his students. And his mission was to make each child a responsible citizen of the country.
Narwade began with the basics! His first lessons addressed something very fundamental to existence, that is, the importance of nature.
Narwade would take his students for 2 km long walks through the jungle near school, something like the field trips arranged by reputed and expensive schools in cities. However, there was a difference. The field trips of the Lonwadi school were not just entertaining and educational for the kids but also taught them the importance of preserving and growing forests.
The walks would begin with the children collecting seeds of neem and tamarind trees. Once they had all their seeds, the students had to count them and the kid with the maximum number of seeds was rewarded. This also helped the children improve their math skills.
The next step was to find places where they could sow the seeds in the jungle. The seeds need had to be planted inside the bushes that grow near big trees so the saplings would get the initial support they needed to grow.
“I have had this habit since childhood. My mother always asked us to sow the seeds of the fruits we ate on the way to the school. We stayed in Kharus village in the Yavatmal district and my school was 4 km away in Dhanki. We used to throw the seeds in the jungle on the way to school and also take care of the plants when the seedlings sprouted,” says Narwade.
Narwade and his little student army also made nests for the birds in the forest and placed water pots for them to quench their thirst.
In the year 2012, the NGO Shivprabha Charitable Trust came to the village of Lonwadi. At the time, the village lacked water facilities, electricity and roads. In the same year, Narwade became a member of the Trust and started working on all these fronts. Today, the village has paved roads, a solar operated water distribution system and electricity, thanks to the efforts of the NGO.
The Trust has also constructed one bio-toilet in the village and is now on a mission to make the entire village open defecation free.
The village has 41 households. Therefore, only 40 more toilets need to be built in the village to fulfill this aim. The Better India appeals to its readers to help make this beautiful and inspirational village meet its target by contributing money for the construction of toilets.
This World Toilet Day, The Better India is supporting Lonwadi, a village in Maharashtra, to become open defecation free in just one month! The residents want to build a toilet in each home and secure a healthy, hygienic and dignified life for themselves. Please lend your support to the residents in their quest and help them get access to toilets, sanitation facilities and a healthy future like all of us.
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