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Against all odds: Story of Bimalji

Bimal Deb Verma, the Principal of Santinagar Higher Secondary Government School in Khwai, Tripura, has been working to ensure that the children in his village receive quality education for many years now. Currently, a total of 213 students are enrolled in classes up to 10 at his school and he is dedicated towards ensuring that they all have a bright future ahead of them.

Khwai is a small village in the state of Tripura and Bimalji believes that education is the key in  ensuring a brighter future for the people there. “In the absence of it,” he says, “children become victims of some form of addiction or they migrate to other parts of the country in search of daily wage jobs.”

When the pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, halting the functioning of schools, Bimalji was left uncertain about the future of the institution. “COVID took us back to where we were ten years ago. Schools remained shut, there was no access to technology to conduct classes. We faced a lot of difficulties during this time,” he added.

Bimalji realised that the most effective way to keep everyone safe and the schools open was to vaccinate as many people as possible. As an influential figure in the community, he saw it important to spread awareness related to COVID-19 and vaccinations. He also reached out to and supported organisations like Voluntary Health Association, Tripura (VHAT),  partner of Community Action Collab(previously #COVIDActionCollab) in organising awareness and vaccination drives for the children and their parents in the school.  He brought all the teachers, parents, and School Management Committee (SMC) members together to ensure the message reaches all, the children eligible are vaccinated and the impact amplifies.

“Through this effort we hoped that the families would be encouraged to get vaccinated too,” says Bimalji.

Informed, aware and driven leaders of the community like Bimalji have not only been ensuring the health, wellbeing and education for the children of the village but also inspiring action and building leaders of tomorrow.  With consolidated efforts from individuals like Bimalji, community, on-ground organisations like VHA Tripura, and the government, vaccinations have reached even the most remote villages in Tripura.