Poonam Kumar, Preeti, and Shanti, students of class 8, 10 and 12, respectively, had a tough time reaching their school in Arajpuri village in Chhattisgarh.
Residents of the Rahata village, they had to use makeshift rafts built using empty oil cans and ropes, and use oars made from timber, to get to Arajpuri.
When Kiran Kaushal, a collector in the Balod district found out about their outrageous daily routine, she decided to do something about it.
Consequently, on Tuesday, 8 January, when the girls reached the riverside to anchor their rafts, they were in for a surprise. Kaushal, an inflatable motorboat, two home guards and several life jackets, were waiting for them.
Speaking to the Times of India, Kaushal said, “I went with my team to the village to hear the grievances of residents on Monday. They said they [had] to cross the reservoir of Kharkhara Dam on boats made of oil tins to reach Arajpuri village to buy grocery and for other daily needs. We provided them with a motorboat and two home guards, who will help the girls and villagers cross the river safely. They have been given life jackets [too].”
The excited girls simply said, “We [have] never felt so good!”
The villagers, however, have a small request for the IAS officer.
Since they cannot afford to maintain the motorboat, they have asked the collector if it can be replaced by a rowboat instead. Kaushal has promised that brand new fibreglass boats will be provided to the villagers in the next 15 days.
Although this is undoubtedly a heartwarming gesture, we hope that there will eventually be a more permanent solution, like building sturdy bridges, roadways or providing more boats that adults can safely row.
Let’s hope that this good deed leads to another and helps the residents of Rahata travel safely.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)