Manjusree Saren

The ‘Marango’ To Tribal Children

Manjusree has devoted her life towards the upliftment of the children of the Santhal tribal community, because of which, they fondly call her ‘Marango’.

At the age of seven, in 1950, Manjusree Bhattacharya came to India (in Shantiniketan of West Bengal) with her family due to communal disturbances in Dhaka. After completion of her school, she secured her admission in Vishva Bharati University. During her work in a central government sponsored project, Manjusree was training the tribals of that area in crafts as well as mother-&-child health and nutrition. She witnessed acute poverty, malnutrition, and illiteracy prevalent in the tribal community. This was a turning point in her life and she promised to develop the Santhal tribal community. She got married to Sri Barka Saren and could get closer to the tribals. Thus, she is Manjusree Saren, now.

In 1997, she started the Binapani Education and Welfare Trust in the name of her mother, Binapani Bhattacharya. The aim of this trust is to promote formal education among children from the tribal communities of West Bengal. Currently, it provides free hostel accommodation and schooling for 70 young girls. Also, she has set up a multi-purpose English medium school, a vocational training center, computer training centre, and coaching for tailoring and music. Almost all the girls are first generation learners and are given holistic exposure to art, music, dance, and cultural activities. The latest addition to establishment, a good hospital, is underway.

Although she started it on her own, this trust is now supported by dozens of business houses and corporates across the globe. Many individuals are emotionally attached to this organisation now. "It is not my project, better you should call it a people's project," says Manjusree proudly. Her husband Barka Saren has been a pillar of strength in addition to her parents' inspiration to this social work. Manjusree is so immersed into her charity to raise the tribal communities, that the girls address her as 'Marango,' meaning senior mother in tribal lexicon. She feels very happy to convince the illiterate tribal parents to send their daughters to school, rather than engaging them in animal herding or sending them to work as domestic help for rich families, to generate income.

Manjusree feels very proud to see the students from her hostel and school go on to graduate and pursue lucrative careers in corporate houses or government schools, even as independent entrepreneurs. "Our fulfillment and satisfaction emanates from the fact that with our support, encouragement, and love, these girls have turned their dreams into reality," she added.

Her core belief in the importance of education can be summed up in the words of Nelson Mandela: 'Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.'


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