From Rai Bareli to Rome, it has been a roller coaster ride for this rural teenagerBy Kulsum Mustafa
LUCKNOW, India, 17th July 2009: One of the ten siblings born to Ram Bahadur a poor schedule caste laborer, 15 year old Narendra Kumar’s physically challenged mother runs a small kiosk in the village to make ends meet.
The family lives on a small patch of land doled out by the headman in Grampure Gosai.This non-descriptive village. situated some 20 odd km from Rai Bareily, has neither electricity nor drinking water facility.
Narendra who had known just want, misery and discrimination all his life suddenly found destiny smiling on him. In 2008 Narendra was spotted by Lokmitra an NGO working for Child Rights in the state.
Narendra was encouraged to come forward, open up and take on the world. He did exactly that. Elected as speaker of the Children’s parliament held in the assembly of India’s populous state Uttar Pradesh in November 2008,
Narendra not only did he get a chance to represent India at J-8 summit in Italy. He even was offered the mayor’s chair in Rome for a full session at this unique children’s session. The incident gave him immense confidence and boosted his morale.
The J-8 summit attempts to give children a voice on important issues Besides Narendra the Indian delegates included a tribal girl from Orissa Sanyukta Pangi and Samu Venketesh from Tamil Naidu.
Narendra who is the only one in his family to complete his class tenth. used the global forum to focus the world attention on the importance of education specially in the Third Word.
Some of the suggestions he made included
- Education made compulsory for each Indian child till class 12th..
- Each village should have besides primary schools also at least one higher secondary school.
- Teachers should teach with affection and support so that students do not feel scared of them in putting up their queries.
Back home from the summit Narendra interacted with the media in Lucknow.
“Better schools, good, teachers will finitely herald in development faster,” said Narendra, who had the entire lot of children dancing to his tune when he sang Jai ho in the cultural exchange slot in Rome.
A little baffled by the English accent he heard at the Summit, Narendra who undertook a week long crash course in English before going to Rome innocently says, “eveyone’s English is different there.”
Narendra is still not sure what he wants to do in the future but he does know that now he has the will and vision to make all dreams come true.
The boy today compares an aeroplane to a“plush bus’ is ready to take off and touch the skies. The magic wand has touched him, there is no stopping him now.