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How a Rickshaw-puller Helped Build 9 Schools

82-year-old, Ahmed Ali regretted never getting an education, so he built schools in his hometown of Karimganj, Assam, writes Abdul Gani

No matter how old we get, there are some regrets that never leave us: some choose to act on it, while others live with those regrets. Ahmed Ali, a 82-year-old resident of Karimganj, Assam, was a rickshaw puller for nearly two decades but it was never the lack of money that bothered him. For Ali, it was the regret of having never attended a school. And so, Ali did what many couldn’t even imagine. With his little earnings and the plots of land he owned, Ali built as many as nine schools.

Besides earning his livelihood as a rickshaw puller, he also did some other works in Guwahati and elsewhere in construction sites and others. But he never has any regrets in life as whatever he did, he performed it with honesty and pride and used this time to understand the people around him. In a conversation with, he says, “I met numerous people in my life in the last eight decades. Many of them exchanged their thoughts with me. Many of them even awarded me just because I didn’t charge more unlike many others. But one thing always disturbed me. That I couldn’t attend school… It pained me. It’s a sin for anybody not to attend school and get the education.”


So, he made up his mind that after him, no one should face the similar fate. He started to gather whatever money he could and out of his 36 bighas of land, he donated at least 32 bighas of land for setting up schools. “Now, seeing the students attending the schools, I feel a kind joy and happiness which I can’t express,” he added.

So far, Ali has set up nine schools. Out of which three are lower primary schools, five are middle English schools and one is a high school in Madhurbond and its nearby areas. Among all these, one ME School and the high school have been named after him as insisted by the locals. Ali established his first school in  1978- a lower primary school – in his village by selling his land and collecting small amounts of money from the locals. Later, the three lower primary schools were provincialised by the government and others are in the queue.

It was difficult for him in the beginning as he had to arrange for everything before the government assistance came in. “I had to make the walls and other necessary things with the support of villagers and my well-wishers. Later the government assisted the schools,” he said. After successfully seeing these schools grown with the time, Ali now dreams to have a junior college in their neighbourhood at the earliest.

Ali (extreme left) inaugurating a school at his hometown in Assam

“There are many things I would have liked to do especially when providing the facilities of education of the children and the youngsters. But with the limited energy I wish to start a junior college in the nearby areas so that the students don’t need to go far away to study (10+2),” said Ali.  Ali said that he met several nice persons who helped him immensely. “I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful persons in my life who helped me and encouraged me. Former Badarpur MLA Maulana Abdul Jalil Sir has also helped and encouraged me. He made me realise that without education, the world is nothing. When I decided to donate the lands for the schools, I got the support of my family especially from my sons who never opposed my decision,” Ali added.

He is also happy that all three sons could attend school and college.

Patherkandi MLA Krishnendu Paul who recently visited Ahmed Ali High School for construction of additional classroom and termed Ali as a ‘rare personality’. The MLA also announced a sum of Rs 11 lakh for the development of the school from the multi-sectoral development programme fund under the union ministry of minority affairs.

“I’ve learned that the man used to be a rickshaw puller but his love for education so much that he single-handedly started to for establishing schools with the little money he earned,” said Paul. It is a feeling that many people in Karimganj share and are thankful to have a personality like Ahmed Ali in their region.


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