Rongneck Junior High School, East Sikkim.

A shy natured boy about the age of 12 years named Suraj joined the Rongneck Junior High School in the year 2016, he took admission in 6th standard, today he is class 8, and his story is worth sharing. He was born to a middle class family, who lives with his grandmother in Chandmari, as his parents’ works in Changu earning their livelihood, they spend very less time with his son while he is growing up, and he was a bright student who had so many things to succeed in the near future as observed by his teachers. 

One incident that happened when he was caught with Rs.2000 in his school bag which was against the schools’ rule for a student to bring money to school, during a surprise checking, the money was confiscated and brought the matter to the headmistress. He was questioned for bringing a big amount of money to school, but his reply did not make us believe him as he said that his parents gave him, not long his younger sister a student of our school revealed that her brother asked her to take it out from the shelf and warned her not to tell it to anyone. But he still kept on denying the fact, where his trusted mother kept on denying the fact saying his son can never do that. The disciplinary committee has to intervene and give counsel to both the son and his mother. This was the starting of his walk in the wrong path.

The next academic session kicked in, so many things have changed in Surajs’ life, even his appearance pale face and drowsy all the time, daydreaming in the class and very passive listener. His friends’ circle has changed and he stayed aloof from his old good company, grades has started deteriorating and showed no interest even in extra curricula activities. In the month of August 2017, he was caught smoking in the boy’s toilet by a teacher during class hour. On interrogation we found out that he skips class often so he could go and smoke, as he had now become habituated smoking marijuana, dendrite and other substances. He confessed that he gets his stuffs from his gang on his way to school. We had no choice but to call his parents again, they came to grief and remorse that they are not being able to spend time with their son as they are very busy earning livelihood.

After so much of discussion with parents and request to the freedom facility at Tathanchen counselor, Mr. K.C Nima we managed to put Suraj to the rehab for four months meanwhile attending school daily. We could see the change in his behavior.

The next academic session started, 2018. In the month of March the school got linked with SAATHI Sikkim, teacher coordinators and peer educators were trained and equipped with the skills of dealing with children under substance abuse. 

Suraj was elected as the group leader of the peer educators, he got to attend with other children and teachers from our school to the camp organized by SAATHI at Chemchey Village, South Sikkim, this camp helped him in many ways, now he could share his feelings with his friends, and he said that sharing has made him feel that a huge burden that he has been carrying for long has gone when he saw children like him in the camp. He has even secured 1st in talent hunt and he has started showing so much involvement and interest displaying his creativity and talent of composing songs and singing for his friends.

Now, he is a changed person who is progressing in every field. In his words, “when I started to change my thinking, I began to see the world differently, I saw what was happening to the people around me who stayed clean and worked to be healthy. My life got better every day because of the intervention of SAATHI”.

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