“Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.”
Being a good teacher is hard, but being the lone teacher in an isolated area is even harder. And Ushakumari from Kerala is doing this hard job for the past 16 years.
Every morning she embarks on a challenging journey to reach the school inside the Agasthyavanam biosphere.
Her journey starts from village Amboori, from where she travels to Kumbikal Kadavu in Thiruvananthapuram. From there she rows a boat across the river and later treks for nearly two hours every day through a steep stretch of tropical forest to reach the Kanni tribal settlement in Kunnathumala.
Despite the long journey, she has never been late to school.
Given the fact that she is the only teacher in the school, she teaches all subjects to 14 students from classes 1 to 4. Apart from academics, she also takes care of extracurricular activities and nutrition. She serves them meals. Sometimes, she has to take her own money to get milk and eggs for the children. But despite all that, Usha has never felt like leaving.
On days when it rains, she doesn’t return home and stays back at one of her students’ homes so that she doesn’t miss school the next day.
She is determined to work towards the overall growth of the children in the school.
The school got its building only in 2000. Before that she would teach the students on rock beds and under the trees. But now the existence of this school and her job is in danger as the government is reportedly planning to close down multi-grade learning centres operated by single teachers like Ushakumari and replace them with regular lower primary schools.
Her selfless service to the underprivileged children defines the role of a teacher in the true sense of the word.