———————by subhojit———————-

Have you ever wondered, how tormenting it must be to spend a life inside the four walls of a prison? While we have heard of many stories of prison rehabilitation programs for the inmates, not many come forward to help the beleaguered family members of convicts. But an Athagarh-based social organisation has not only been working towards academic development of the children of jail inmates but also helping the convicts stay connected with their families through letters. For the last 14 years, John Augustus Prison and Social Welfare Services has been providing books and study material to the children whose parents are confined in the prisons. The man at the helm of the organization is Dr. Pranab Choudhury who followed the footsteps of his father, a former prison welfare officer who founded the organization in 2003. “As a child, I watched my father working for the welfare of the convicts. It had a huge influence on me. After completing my studies, I decided to join the organization in 2006 and vowed to work for these people for the rest of my life,” says 35-year old.

Dr. Choudhury is grateful to the Jail Department for their support especially since they have thoroughly understood his mission. “Thankfully I have never faced any issues while working. The prison officials have so much of faith in me that my work gets smoothly done. Besides I would fail in my duty if I do not thank Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) for joining hands with our organization,” he said. The organization has so far distributed more than 10,000 books to the children, many of whom have passed the annual examinations with stunning results. He shared a heartening story of a 15-year old girl Sangeeta Harijan. “When Sangeeta was only 8 months old, her father was sentenced to life imprisonment on murder charges. Till the age of 15, Sangeeta had never seen her father! She came searching to Kotpad Jail just to catch a glimpse of him. I was pretty moved when I heard of Sangeeta’s case. Sangeeta evinced her interest to pursue her studies after her matric exams. Through our organization, a noble man came forward to offer her some help. She was given a bicycle, uniform and a few books. Now, Sangeeta is well on her path for higher studies and preparing for her nursing exams.” Despite his noble mission, Dr. Choudhury rues the lack of funds which has slowed down his continuous efforts. “In the next few years, I plan to reach out to all the children of the jail inmates in the state. Our long term goal is to support the education of the children of prison inmates’ till their graduation. Despite the financial crunch, I would continue my efforts till my last breath,” he signs off. ❏

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