Satrem: The next generation of Shelke family goes to school by walking up to nearest bus stop in Satrem village 3 km from their home. It’s a long and lonely trek through the dense forests of Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, where the wild animals and most poisonous reptiles reside.
Despite knowing the threat that these wild creatures pose to them, the children have taken the danger in their stride as education comes first to them at any cost.
“We start for school at 0600 hrs everyday. We wake up at 0500 hrs. There are eight of us, with the youngest being 3-years-old. We all go together and keep our senses wide awake. But we don’t let the dangers in the way to stop us from going to school,” says 18-year-old Gangaram Babu Shelke, eldest son of Babu Shelke. He along with his brother Kano Babu Shelke is in 11th grade and studies Horticulture at Government High School in Valpoi.
Kano Babu Shelke says he doesn’t fear wild animals and fortunately for the children, they have never encountered a big cat on the way.
“We want the government to provide us with electricity, water and road connectivity till Satrem village so that we can study. Lot of time is wasted in fetching water from the springs. At night it is very difficult to study under oil lamps,” Kano says.
Ninth grade student and son of Nakli Shelke, Rupesh is a self-motivated boy. He idolises his elder brothers and ensures that he reaches school everyday.
“I want to become a teacher. Like me, there are many children here living in bad condition. I want to become teacher and teach the children of my village to help them become big in life,” says a smiling Rupesh.