We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted normal life for everyone. The education system in West Bengal, like many other places, has developed to adapt to the new normal.

Schools in West Bengal remain closed up to now and teachers are conducting online classes where possible in an effort to keep the children connected to education. Padma K. attends a school in Kolkata, West Bengal. This schools contains 285 students and 33 staff.

The Child Cabinet Training in this school was completed on 13 February 2020, about a month before the pandemic hit the region.

Padma is one of the Child Cabinet members and was an active participant in the training, saying that she loved the experience.

She is 14 years old and has a disability that delayed the start of her schooling.

She was in 4th grade in February 2020 and has since been promoted to 6th grade by the school after assessing her performance and level of learning.

In November 2020, when the world was still deep into the COVID fight, we still wanted to celebrate World Toilet Day.

Splash approached the schools, including Milangarh Balika Vidyalaya, to see if they could observe the day in their own safe way.

The headmistress of the school, Ms. Bandana Dutta Paul, reached out to the children who were available on WhatsApp and asked them to draw, write, and send in their thoughts directly to her.

Padma took it upon herself to participate, as she felt fortunate to live in a cheap apartment, knowing that many of her colleagues are completely more economically deprived and live in poor neighborhoods with poor hygiene and sanitation.

She thought she had a responsibility to improve the situation and knew she could use her voice to raise awareness, so she wrote a poem about World Toilet Day and sent it to her teacher.

Through this poem, she wanted to spread the message about the importance of using a toilet and the necessity of washing hands with soap after using the toilet, especially giving the risk of COVID-19.

Her headmaster liked it so much that she shared it with the other children and with her official Teachers’ Circle community, so that they could share the message with other children in different schools.

Padma’s initiative is an inspiration for others and shows that our collective work will stand stronger than any challenge, whether it is a physical challenge, natural disaster, or pandemic.

(Together, we can overcome these challenges and do our part to improve our situation).