02 December, 2020

Miracle Man Of Matia Bazar

The kids of 24 Parganas' red-light area have come a long way from petty crimes to going to school

Miracle Man Of Matia Bazar
There are two things the village of Matia Bazar, in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, is known for. One is its large, weekly market. The other is its 150-year-old red-light area. When Ambia Hossain was growing up in the village, he often saw the traders and the children of sex workers cross each other’s path in strange, sometimes heart-rending, ways. The children, running wild and underfed, would steal fruit and other eats on market day, get caught and be beaten up by the vendors. Hossain’s heart always went out to them. "Many of them were unwanted, uncared for," he says. "They had to fend for and feed themselves. Their best hope was to get some schooling."

Marshalling his meagre resources a few years ago, Ambia set about putting up a coaching centre for the kids—but only after spending six months convincing their mothers to educate them, and repeatedly appealing to the local panchayat for funds. "I could tell that the sex workers were happy with the idea of schooling, but they were wary of us outsiders," he recalls. He found unlikely support in Swapna...



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