Biswanath Naru was unable to complete his education due to extreme poverty. To bring food for his siblings, he started to work as a fish seller.

Hours before the city of Kolkata woke up to the usual honks of rickshaw-pullers, Naru woke up to ready himself for the labour of the day.

Wanting to make education accessible to children from similar backgrounds as his own, nearly 45 years ago he started a free school.

“The small rented room had no benches, fans or lights. All we had was a couple of donated books and six locals who volunteered to teach. We enrolled children of rickshaw-pullers, daily wage labourers and domestic workers,” informs Naru.

At that time, Naru could only afford to give the students a roof and some mats to sit on.

“Despite the rains, students insisted on continuing until the water percolated through the roof inside the small room. It was very reassuring to see their passion for education and that day, I became determined to turn the shabby room into a formal school,” shares Naru.

With the help of Calcutta Urban Services and East India British Council, bulbs from a local grocery owner, fans from a bank, and monetary aid from several organisations and kind-hearted people, the school took shape.

Although the school now had basic amenities, his dream was to convert it into a formal school. This dream became a reality when the Prayatna Foundation stepped in to help the humble fish seller.

In 2015, the NGO agreed to expand the one-room classroom into a two-storey school equipped with classrooms, computer labs and toilets. Naru too spends Rs 20,000 out of his pocket every month to buy used books for school.

Currently, there are 60 students studying for free at the school.