Did you know that the world’s largest tidal delta lies in the eastern fringes of India? Yes, we are talking of the Sundarbans, which lies in the lower expanses of West Bengal and Bangladesh. The region, which is covered in enormous mangrove forests, has been rightfully designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unique ecological system is home to many endangered species of animals, flora and fauna. The first that comes to mind is the Bengal tiger, followed closely by the estuarine crocodile, the olive ridley turtle, the Ganges river dolphin, the monitor lizard, the fishing cat and six types of sharks. The jungles are also populated with wild boars, spotted deer and macaw. Many reptiles and snakes – both venomous and non-venomous – and nearly 248 types of birds still live on this land, while many others have become extinct in the past two centuries.
The mangrove forests of the Sundarbans provide a natural barrier against cyclones, stopping them in their path as they careen towards the mainland of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Hence, preserving this forest reserve is vital to maintaining an ecological balance. On the flip side, these islands bear the total onslaught of cyclones and the consequent high tidal waves year after year.
Human habitation has sprawled in the Sundarbans through the ages and continues to grow.
But for the people who have made this territory their home, each day is a regular struggle between life and death. Apart from the unpredictability of the weather, predators lurk in every corner of the forest reserve. The societal setup is also vulnerable to drug peddling and abuse, child trafficking, school dropouts and underage elopement. Good formal education is a mirage for the children of these communities, who have been tied to beedi-rolling and fishing for generations.
At Swapnopuron, we are ceaselessly endeavouring to restore the ecological and societal balance in the area. To achieve this, we have taken up the challenge of educating the community that lives in the vast terrain by providing formal education and supporting livelihoods.
Our school children were planting saplings.
In the past year, we empowered 2,820 families by creating livelihood opportunities through pond cleaning, kitchen gardening, tube well repairing and maintenance, and timber-based incomes. We also facilitated the planting of 50,000 mangrove saplings and distributed 450 saplings.
Our volunteers braved the super cyclone Amphan to deliver food, water, medicine and other necessities to the affected people of Hingalganj and its surrounding areas. We also provided more than 2,500 families with dry rations during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Our volunteers carrying aid supplies through the super cyclone
Our efforts to improve the living conditions of the community in the Sundarbans are an ongoing process. Toward that end, we have been able to educate over 1,000 children up to the secondary school level through the Swapnopuron Shiksha Niketan. It is the only English-medium CBSE school in the region. We strive to instil in our students the dream for a better tomorrow that can be achieved through education.
With your support, we aspire to stretch our educational facilities to the higher secondary level. Most of our students are sponsored through donor aid, as their families cannot bear the cost of education, however minimal.
We appeal to you to invest in transforming the mangrove forest region of Hingalganj and its adjacent areas into a better-managed community. Donate towards educating a child from the Sundarbans, for they are the future.