I write this update to thank you. To thank each one of you for every rupee you lent to Sujat. I am the person who could meet him and see for myself the impact of the Rs.15000. The next 3 minutes of this read, might unfold a few facts about Sujat you probably didn't know when you were lending.
Sujat and his mother
When I reached Sujat’s house, I saw him lost in his read. One look at him, I knew he was a shy kid. His eyes had a sort of calmness that you usually wouldn't see in a 13year old. At this age we see boys go crazy playing, getting into petty fights, and throwing tantrums.
But Sujat; he was the quiet one. Quiet and mature. He even knew where I was from and why I was visiting. “Ammi ne loan liya hai mujhe padhane ke liye, wohi se ho naa?” (My mother took a loan to educate me, you are here for that?). I replied with a nod and asked why wasn't he out playing. I can't play, he said and shrugged. Making himself comfortable in one corner of the bed. He took out his 7th std Bengali textbook to continue reading meanwhile his mother, Mohasena walked in with water and pieces of jaggery as sweets.
It is then she told me that Sujat has asthma. He was 9 when he was diagnosed with a severe case of tuberculosis. Unable to afford the medical costs, they tried treating it with gharelu nuskhe (home remedies in Hindi). Realizing his health was deteriorating, they had to rush him to a hospital. Having lost a part of his lung to the disease, Sujat is a survivor.
Seeing his mother teary-eyed, he jumps into the conversation. Tells me how reading about a sport is way better than playing it. He is known for reading all his textbooks in his summer holidays and finishing them even before school starts. So much so that he is learning the Holy Quran and reads it beautifully. It is such a soulful experience to hear him that the local mosque calls him every Wednesday for public reading. That's how much he enjoys reading and absorbs life from every read. To adapt to reality so maturely, it seemed almost effortless every time he explained the perks of reading over playing sports.
He is just 13yrs old, I had to constantly remind myself. Sujat’s parents work as laborers in a brick-making factory in Basirhat. Each of them earns a daily wage of Rs 100. With the unpredictable nature of Sujat’s health, neither can they leave him alone at home nor can they take him along to the factory. With Mohasena staying back to look after Sujat, their income is cut down to half. Rs 100 a day. Sujat alone needs medicines of Rs 1600 a month. The basic math of the situation seemed so brutal. To each of you who contributed to Rs 15000, reading this update could make feel angry about how unfair life has been for Sujat and his family; or feel sympathy for this 13-year-old.
But dearest lenders, I write this update with no such intention. I write it to remind you and me of “the why” of lending. Why Milaap came into existence? Why 50 like me chose to work for it? And why 18000 of you chose to lend? Only because, we believed that we had to change Sujat’s story while we still had a chance. The Rs 15000 loan helped him nurture his love of reading. It could seem like mere textbooks and school fees but the boy got a chance to change his reality. Continuing his education, gave him a chance to make up for things he cannot do. He might never know what it's like to play a sport but he sure as hell knows the joy of reading.
Together we have changed 117,136 such stories. Our “why” gave each of them a chance to change it. So let's lend a little more or just re-lend, run one more marathon to raise funds, walk an extra mile to spread the word. Because together we can buy them one chance to change their story. Lastly, I thank you. It is an absolute pleasure to witness the impact you create.
A Milaap Fellow