News & Information From Northeast India

Assam rickshaw puller draws PM’s attention for his efforts to establish 9 schools on his own

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lauded Ahmed Ali, a rickshaw-puller from Karimganj district of Assam, who has established nine schools in his area, during ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

“When I read in letters sent by you that how a rickshaw puller from Assam’s Karimganj, Ahmed Ali, built nine schools for poor children, it gives me a glimpse into the nation’s willpower,” the Prime Minister said during his radio address to the nation.

Eighty two-year-old Ahmed Ali used to be a rickshaw puller from Madhurbond village under Patherkandi circle of Karimganj district.

What Ali has done many couldn’t even imagine. Ali, who couldn’t go to school due to poverty, has ensured all the children of his villages and neighbourhood go to the schools.

With his little earnings and the plots of land he possessed, Ali made as many as nine schools.

Besides earning his livelihood as a rickshaw puller, he also did some other works in Guwahati and elsewhere at construction sites and others. But he never has any regrets in life as whatever he did, he performed it with honesty and pride.

But one thing which always disturbed him was his illiteracy. “I met numerous people in my life in the last eight decades. Many of them exchanged their thoughts with me. Many of them even awarded me just because I didn’t charge more, unlike many others. But one thing always disturbed me. That I couldn’t attend school… It pained me. It’s a sin for anybody not to attend school and get education,” Ali told The News Mill during a conversation.

So, he made up his mind that after him, no one should face a similar fate. He started to gather money, whatever he could, and out of his 36 bighas of land he donated at least 32 bighas of land for setting up schools.

“Now, seeing the students attending the schools, I feel a kind joy and happiness which I can’t express,” he added.

So far, Ali has set up nine schools. Out of which three are lower primary schools, five are middle English schools and a high school in Madhurbond and its nearby areas. Among all these one ME School and the high school have been named after him after the locals insisted.

It was 1978 when Ali had established his first school – a lower primary school – in his village by selling his land and collecting small amounts of money from the villagers.

Later, the three lower primary schools have been provincialized by the government and others are in the queue.

It was difficult for him in the beginning as he had to arrange for everything before the government assistance came in. “I had to make the walls and other necessary things with the support of villagers and my well-wishers. Later the government assisted the schools,” he said.

After successfully seeing these schools grow with time, Ali now dreams to have a junior college in their neighbourhood at the earliest.

“There are many things I would have liked to do, especially providing the education facilities to the children and the youngsters. But with the limited energy I wish to start a junior college in the nearby areas so that the students don’t need to go far away to study,” said Ali.

Ali who used to pull rickshaw to ferry passengers for 18 years till 1992, said that he met several persons who helped him immensely. “I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful people in my life who helped me and encouraged me. Former Badarpur MLA Maulana Abdul Jalil sir has also helped and encouraged me. He made me realize that without education, the world is nothing. When I decided to donate the lands for the schools, I got the support of my family especially from my sons who never opposed my decision,” Ali added.

He is also happy that all three sons could attend school and college.

Patherkandi MLA Krishnendu Paul, who recently visited Ahmed Ali High School for construction of additional classroom, termed Ali a ‘rare personality’. Rs 11 lakh was announced for the development of the school from the multi-sectoral development programme fund under the Union ministry of minority affairs.

“I’ve learned that the man used to be a rickshaw puller but his love for education is so much that he singlehandedly started establishing schools with the little money he earned,” said Paul.

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