Meet 76-year-old Usha Malik, who has put the world to shame. She singlehandedly quashed the fact that it’s a pandemic and there is rampant unemployment in India. If she can do it, then so can anyone. She has done everything in her power to educate those who cannot afford it. She took it in her stride to reach out to the remote corners of the world to teach Bengali. It is her life's mission is to promote Bengali culture and language.
On being asked about the whereabouts of her institution, she said, "The world is my school and my students are from all around the world." When asked about her life's mission, she said, " To promote Bengali and its rich culture." The target audience, she said, are of two types, one for whom education is not affordable and the other being those who are far away from India but want to learn Bengali.
“Many kids in India do not get to study owing to their poor financial backgrounds. Out of the 200 million children between six and 14 years of age, around 59 million do not attend school. Moreover, the digital world is taking kids away from culture and ethics. So I use video calling as the mode of teaching, which is easily available for anyone these days.’’ Says Usha Malik
"I have all kinds of students from six-year-olds to Moms who live abroad to Nurses in hospitals, anyone can contact me. Recently, a doctor from Delhi contacted me as he had to treat an old Bengali woman who didn’t know Hindi. I further guided the doctor as what to ask the lady about her ailment in Bengali. Many Bengalis who moved out of Bengal and are living in metro want to teach Bengali to their children but often find it hard to locate a Bengali teacher. They come to me."
During the Indo-Pakistan partition, in 1947, Usha Malik travelled all the way to Karnal in Haryana as a young widow with her four children looking for shelter. Away from her hometown, Malik had a huge task of raising four children single-handedly and soon realised that education was not accessible. Moreover, she found that in Karnal people didn’t speak Bengali. She wanted to protect the language and so she set out to teach her mother tongue to her children. She firmly believes that language always brings in values and culture in children.
“ Bengali is a sweet language and it is the language of the poets. In foreign countries, many of the Bengalis fear that their children will grow up not learning their mother tongue. Teaching those children through video calls gives me a lot of satisfaction. “ said Malik.