India, arguably the largest democracy in the world, is currently struggling to provide its women the long craved security. Be it the 'City of the Nawabs' or the 'City of Joy', women's security has been at high risk due to sequential criminal activities. Eminent personalities have also come out in the open and have voiced their opinions on several occasions but not much change has been observed. In Bengal's Dakhinkhanda near Andal, about 170 kilometers from Kolkata, the scenario seemed to have taken a right turn as a 23-year-old girl has been providing free karate and self-defence classes to village girls since the Hyderabad rape and murder of a veterinarian to raise a solution. The Bridge caught up with the woman behind this noble cause.
Shreyashi Hazra, a physics graduate from Burdwan University, had initiated her movement for the cause almost two years ago. Her NGO 'Maa Welfare Organisation' provides free educational services for the poor, oppressed, and subaltern children of the Madhujore Colliery area.
On being asked about what made her take up the movement, she said:
The classes initially started with a handful of children from the local shanties. Shreyashi recalls how she was often named 'Kheypi' by the locals. Her movement gradually took shape with around 450 students taking admission in the self-defence classes. Besides moral studies, the students here are taught about the environment, the history and culture, the importance of wildlife and many more. Shreyashi avered, "I have always tried to help the overall development of my children as I focus on their behavioural development, their consciousness towards nature and wildlife, and their education and nutrition, besides the self-defence training".
Shreyashi runs the NGO solely on her own money that she has earned during her teaching profession. She has quit her job to provide more time for this mission. On being asked why she chose social service over her career, she claimed:
When asked about future plans, Shreyashi shared her upcoming goals and the morals that keep pushing her forward, "I have chosen to teach the children with a certain goal in my mind. I believe no man is born criminal rather it's the upbringing and lack of education that pushes him to the darkness of crime. So if we can start educating the children, we can change what's happening around in society, as children are clay molds that can be put into shape, according to how we wish."
She further added, "That's because I have always tried to indulge them in sports like volleyball, karate, and football because team game and sports are the best ways of teaching children to be co-operative, tolerant, and yet competitive. In the future, I want to extend my work in the whole country. I believe that educating the poor and oppressed and bringing them closer to sports will remove the darkness in society, besides putting a check on crime".
Andal definitely has shown the way to a probable solution of the current social situation with Shreyashi paving the way for the rest, with the society expecting more people to come up and extend their support to social welfare. The nation is currently struggling with social issues while looking up to the youth to lead a flag of change. Girls like Shreyashi are to be found in every nook and corner of the country who need to be encouraged and be provided with a chance to showcase their service towards society. "In the near future, I wish there will be support, both financially and mentally, from my countrymen, as I am honest and dedicated towards my passion," she signed off.