Some people don’t believe in HEROES because they haven’t met people like Dipali Sawant.
Yes, Dipali’s story is that of a common ordinary woman who had an extraordinary effect on her students’ lives.
When Dipali initiated her journey as a teacher, the one thing that she promised herself was to never give up.
In 2006, when Dipali reached the school in Kolhi village, Maharashtra to take over as a teacher, she hardly knew about the obstacles that will come in her way of creating a brighter future for our country.
But, even the shattered building, non-existent roads and lack of a decent house to rent couldn’t faze her from her goal.
She made up her mind to turn things around.
It was her first posting and she was the first woman to take up the position at this “durgam” (remote and difficult to reach) school.
But in the last few years, a lot of things have changed.
Today, the same school is regarded as an exemplary model and is visited by education officials and teachers who want to learn from its success.
While sharing her inspiring journey, the real hero Sawant shared with TOI:
“When I first saw the village, I realized how neglected it was. There was no pucca road and the bus service was not punctual. The school building looked like it would fall apart,”
“My immediate need was to find a house to live in. After much searching, I found a sort-of-pucca house in a nearby village. My husband would drop me and pick me up after work,”
Soon the construction began, and within two years, there was a pucca building for the school.
Sawant further added:
“I started teaching the students. I believe there is no substitute to the fundamental teaching-learning process. So I innovate based on the requirement. If I feel a certain topic is difficult, I create role-plays or fun-games,”
Swant understood the power of women in driving social change, so she also started organizing women’s meetings.
“This was apart from the parent-teacher meetings. I wanted women to understand the importance of education. Soon, they started trusting me. Last year, three students left private schools to join this school. Two more will be joining this year,”
But, Sawant knows that all children can’t complete higher education. So to make them self-equipped, Sawant teaches them skills necessary for starting small businesses.
“During Diwali, I bring raw materials to make diyas and lanterns. The children make them and then sell the products. They handle everything — from setting prices to maintaining books,”
Dinesh Ladhi, a local resident, showed his gratitude towards Sawant as she has not only changed the school’s quality but has also made an impact on the whole village.
“She started preparing students for the Navodaya Vidyalaya exams and two of our students have got through. We also have kids qualifying for the state scholarship exams.”
She has proved that strength neither lies in our muscles nor in our gender. It lies in our courage, determination and persistence!
Hats off to Sawant for her brave courageous act of making the future brighter for these kids!