March 8, 2009
This post was supposed to be written one day back but since I was busy working on the offline repo and installing Fedora on friend's computer, so this post comes a little late. On the fine day of 6th March, Friday, Shreyank and me went for a visit to a high school in a village located on the outskirts of Durgapur and made famous by the DGPLUG project
. This project set up a computer lab in a village school where you don't even get proper drinking water and where none of the students would have never had a chance of so as to even see a computer if not for this project. It was a farsighted one. Kudos to the DGPLUG people.
I woke up that morning on a call from Ratnadeep informing me that they will be catching the 11:30 bus to Bijra and was telling me since I had showed interest earlier to go to Bijra. I confirmed our visit after getting the detailed route from him. After a hell lot of a trouble, we finally managed to reach Bijra. What I saw there was simply amazing. The students out there were in some ways more disciplined than Model School students and were so very enthusiastic about stuffs. Ratnadeep and gang were showing them some fun stuffs on Linux, not willing to overload their brains with blah blah information. DGPLUG had installed, with some help from WBUT, a computer lab out there which runs on LTSP. Several low grade network boot machines booting from a high grade server. This reduces the installation cost. After some time with showing them Marble and Kstars and other fun stuffs, they were moved to the lab in groups of 30, 10 per computer since only 3 computers were running. They were being showed the National Geographic videos which were archived there. Shreyank was explaining Global Warming to them. He was stammering a bit with Bengali since it's not his mother tongue. The small kids were actually telling him the bengali words for whatever he was trying to say. I was amazed by that. On other two consoles the small girls and boys were being taught how to use TuxPaint to write their names, change colours, styles, font size etc. Initally they were a bit rusty with the stuff but picked up easily with a little practice and encouragement. It was really awesome teaching them. Then colour filling was demoed and they were allowed to try it out themselves. They were so exhilarated with the experience of actually working with a computer. One thing that simply took me aback was the fact that they learned the 'ctrl+z' undo function just by observing me do it. I explained it to them. At this point I was almost killing myself for the fact that I didn't bring a proper camera. Every moment was photogenic. One incident happened that has to be, has to be mentioned here. A harmonium was lying on the table and its cover was on the other table. A small kid, yeah much smaller than me both in height and age, took the cover and put it on the harmonium, something I had never done in my whole school life. He actually made me feel small in front of him. The headmaster was quite nice and had warmth in his behaviour. He made acquaintances with us and we promised him to help him with the project whenever he needs any. He was very thankful about that. As we came out of the school and were waiting for the bus, the children kept waving at us from the windows (not Microsoft Windows). It was a sight to cherish. We too waved back Shreyank was pushed by all this to promise another visit to Bijra very soon. Thus a great day of enlightenment, for us, for the children there, came to an end.