Ninoshka’s love for teaching took her to a remote village in Odisha where kids can’t get enough of this new teacher. Know more about her journey and how it changed her life along with that of others around her.
“Teaching is something I can do all my life. There is something magical when I am with kids – I connect with them and love spending time with them,” says Ninoshka Dsilva in a peppy voice.
When she graduated in 2012, she did not think twice before pursuing her favourite profession of teaching. She got a part time internship at a local school in Jharkhand where she taught English to the kids.
But this was not enough for Ninoshka. She wanted to reach out to those who needed the intervention the most.
That is when she heard of the SBI Youth for India Fellowship and she felt that was an opportunity to take her passion to a large scale. For someone who loves the company of children, there was probably no better opportunity for Dsilva than this.
This girl from Goa packed her bags and went to a remote village Koipur in Odisha to spread her love for education. It’s just been four months but she speaks fluent Oriya, and is also trying her best to speak the tribal local language, Saura.
“When I first came here, I was very confused and scared. I did not know how to start. I just knew that I had to engage the kids and educate them, but I wasn’t sure how,” Dsilva recalls.
Teaching with a twist
But as teaching came naturally to this young girl, she broke the ice in no time with her interesting techniques. She learnt their local language and sang songs for the kids. Pretty amused at seeing an outsider singing their traditional songs, the kids went berserk and accepted Dsilva with open hearts.
After that, there was no looking back. She started her regular teaching sessions at a local school in the valley, where kids from nearby villages would come to learn from the new teacher.
Dsilva’s interesting and entertaining style never let the classroom witness even a single dull moment.
She used music, videos and even contextual storytelling to make the students relate to the subject. From topics as rudimentary as hygiene, nail cutting and taking a shower to helping the kids explore their potential through various arts and crafts, Dsilva covered many grounds.
When the kids see her, they come running on to the streets to meet the ‘book lady’ who has come to open up their imagination.
“I guess taking the first step is the hardest. Everything else just follows. When I first came here, I was very scared. But after one kid joined me, others too became part of the initiative,” she says.
And in just a few months, she has engaged with over 40 tribal kids through various activities.
The ripples of change
Her hard work has paid off too in the form of an attitude change in the kids. Biku, a 10th standard boy, had never attended a single class at school. He would waste all his time and the villagers said that he knew nothing. Biku had a speech impairment and hence he could not speak normally like other kids. He always kept to himself and was extremely shy.
One day, while reading an Oriya newspaper, Dsilva asked Biku to read out a word and he couldn’t do that. Surprised to see a 10th standard kid failing to read a simple word, she spent some time with him and helped him overcome his weaknesses. After a few days, Biku not only read an entire story aloud in front of the whole class but also showed an immense amount of confidence which was lacking in him earlier.
“These are the kind of small experiences that make me continue my work. It is very hard to measure the impact as such, but you can see it in small cases like these,” Dsilva says.
When we see the ease with which Dsilva has made an important place for herself in this community, it is hard to believe that she faced a few challenges too. The biggest challenge was the language barrier. As she was working in a remote village, the tribals didn’t understand Hindi or English at all.
But Dsilva’s passion to bring about a change was much bigger than this difficulty. And today, she speaks the local language with a flair. “Of course, network issues, lack of electricity and other similar things are issues too. But, aren’t we prepared for those already before taking the plunge?” she asks with a smile.
The journey which changed her life
Four months in this village have not only transformed the lives of the tribal kids but of Dsilva too. “There is so much empathy and love. People here are so trusting, open and loving. I can approach anyone now and I have changed as a person for good. I have learnt the value of life and how important simplicity is,” she says.
In the future, Dsilva wants to continue teaching as she believes there is nothing else she would ever want to do. Teaching is not just a job for her but a way of life.
As she passionately talks about her work with the amazing tribal kids, she signs off with some piece of advice for those who want to take the plunge.
“You are never too small to make a difference. In this journey, you are not just transforming other lives, but you are changing yourself too,” she says.
As Dsilva continues her inspiring stint at Koipur village in Odisha, we hope to see many such change makers who are willing to go an extra mile for someone else.