Published: 31st May 2017
The residents of a tiny hamlet in Odisha are indebted to this Goa girl for changing their lives. Here's why
Even though Ninoshka Dsilva lives in Goa now, her heart remains in Koinpur, a remote village. Read on to find out more about this young teacher’s journey to the hamlet
Upon googling Koinpur, one cannot expect to find much. But google it in conjunction with the name Ninoshka, and you will come across a few fundraisers by the young Ninoshka Dsilva to educate the tribal children of this tiny hamlet in Odisha. When I first heard of her, a million questions popped into my head. Who is she? What is a non-Odia speaking youngster doing there? Why does she want to help them?
So, to help answer these questions, we caught up with Ninoshka, who currently works with the NGO, Tara Trust in Goa, educating and uplifting little children from the slums through art, music, and dance.
Though she may be back in her homeland of Goa, her heart remains in the village, she says, adding, “Even today, every time I close my eyes, I see myself going back.”
We let the 27-year-old narrate her own story, answering our extensive list of questions in the process.
I was into marketing for a while after my graduation. I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do all my life. I once did an internship in designing school curriculum in Jharkhand. That was when I realised that this what I wanted to do. Then went an option to take up the SBI Youth rural fellowship came, I took it up.
Teach-to-reach: Initially, Ninoshka was into marketing, but soon realised that she is meant to teach
Into the woods
The fellowship required us to go to remote areas of the country. Koinpur was the most rural location among the options available. It is a beautiful hamlet which is between two mountains. The place had school buildings, but there were no teachers. Regular classes never happened.
Water, electricity, and internet. Where art thou?
Initially, it was impossible without having water, electricity, and internet. But I got over it pretty soon. Half of my days were spent in villages talking to the villagers helping them realise what we could go together and bring solutions.
Back to school: Ninoshka brought life to the school building that wasn't functioning without any teachers
To teach is to learn twice
The first thing I did there was learning Odia. I did manage to speak in signs and funny facial expressions, that worked well as an icebreaker. Every day, I’d organise storytelling sessions for the children. Many of them didn’t even go to school.
Bigger guns, better returns
Slowly, the adults also started attending them and some of them told me that they too wanted to learn. I was more than happy to help. I did a literacy programme with the women there. They never knew to count the commodity they sold. They could now multiply, divide, read signs and even understand the expiry date of medicines that they got from the PHCs. The end of the day, I was empowering the entire community.
The first thing I did there was learning Odia. I did manage to speak in signs and funny facial expressions, that worked well as an icebreaker
Ninoshka Dsilva Rural Teacher
A dream of going back
It was heartbreaking for me to leave Koinpur. I’m planning to go back there. I want to learn more and improve myself before that. I’m training myself so that I’m of more use when I go back to places like these.