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In the picturesque hills of Malkangiri district, a silent battle wages between cultural preservation and modern progress. Despite government efforts to usher in development, there lingers a steadfast resistance among the Bonda tribe, guardians of a rich heritage passed down through generations. Malkangiri, home to the Bonda tribe, finds itself at the crossroads of tradition and advancement, a dilemma reflected in the tribe’s dwindling population.
With just 7,000 members as of 2016, the Bonda tribe faces a precarious future marked by declining birth rates and troubling mortality statistics. Factors like early marriages, alcoholism among men, and abysmally low literacy rates contribute to their struggles. Yet, amidst these challenges, a beacon of hope emerges in young Jitin from Kodamguda village.
Tragedy struck the family during a rainy August day when Jitin’s father tragically drowned in a village lake. Jitin, then in third grade, returned home for vacation to the heart-wrenching news of his father’s demise. Despite the passage of time, the village, now bustling with roads and greenery, still mourns the loss of Bokulu at the same unforgiving lake.
Kodamguda remains a tranquil haven where daily life unfolds amidst lush greenery and simple pleasures. Jitin’s mother toils in the fields to make ends meet, earning a meagre income to sustain her family. Their humble abode, a sanctuary shared by Jitin and his two younger brothers, offers little beyond necessities and a roof overhead.
Yet, Jitin’s life took a fortunate turn when he gained admission to Immanuel English SDA School. Here, amidst the warm embrace of education and support, Jitin found hope and purpose. Sheltered from the spectre of alcoholism and illiteracy, he dreams of a future as a protector of his people, fueled by the promise of opportunities previously beyond his reach.
Through the kindness of a helping hand, Jitin’s narrative transforms from despair to promise. His journey underscores the transformative power of education and community support in reshaping destinies and breaking the cycle of adversity.
(Name changed to protect identity)