GUWAHATI: Ahmed Ali, an 82-year-old rickshaw-puller from Karimganj district – who set up nine schools in Madhurband village of Patharkandi with his personal earnings – got featured in the 42nd ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday.
Ali’s mention in the monthly address of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the nation set off a sense of festivity his remote village, close to the Bangladesh border.
Ali’s efforts are symbolic of the willpower that our countrymen have, said Modi on Sunday. “When I got to read in your letters how a rickshaw-puller from Karimganj in Assam, Ahmed Ali, has built nine schools for underprivileged children, it gave me a glimpse into the nation’s willpower,” the PM said.
While listening to the programme with his wife, three sons and relatives, Ali’s face lit up when he heard his name. “I began my work by the wish of Allah and achieved some success by means of blessings from locals,” said Ali, a school dropout himself.
In 1978, Ali sold a plot of his land and collected small amounts of money from other villagers, subsequently establishing a lower primary school. In the last forty years, he repeated this process many times, establishing as many as nine schools in Madhurband and nearby villages – three lower primary schools, five upper primary schools and one high school.
Of the 36 bighas of land Ali inherited, he has donated 32 bighas for the purpose of setting up schools. Also, at a time when philanthropy is practised as a vehicle for publicity, only one of the nine schools bears Ali’s name, and that too after requests from several villagers.
“I have a dream to establish at least 10 schools in my locality. I want to now set up a junior college without delay so that no student from a poor family has to abandon studies after passing out of Class 10,” Ali said.
“I had dropped out of school owing to poverty. It pained me. I don’t want to see dropouts from poor families anymore. It is a sin for anybody to not be educated. I feel joy when I see that boys and girls from the village have been attending school,” said Ali.
The octogenarian expressed his gratitude to his friends, neighbours and the media for encouraging him to continue his venture. He added that the government has also come on board recently to provide funds for development of the schools. “We are proud of Ali and his dream and drive for education, which garnered the attention of the Prime Minister,” said Krishnendu Paul, the Patharkandi MLA.