Something About The Journey
It was 7th August, 1991 when the world fell apart for me. My father was fatally injured by some miscreants at Udala while working as an engineer with the Minor Irrigation Department. I was only 16 years old and the eldest one in the family. That same night my mother took me and my four siblings away from the luxury of the government quarter and returned to our village where we faced an uncertain future.
Our relatives helped in the initial stages, but we knew their sympathy would not last forever. How would we survive without my father’s income?
It was at our lowest point that life once again took an unexpected turn. This time, the intervention came from the then Chief Minister, Shri Biju Patnaik, who arranged support for us from the CM’s Office in the amount of Rs. 50,000. It was a lifeline that kept us afloat. Eventually, I was able to complete my engineering studies from NIT, Rourkela and landed in the USA in 1999. But I never forgot the generosity we were shown, and I vowed one day to give back.
After coming to the US, I began building my professional career. Like many ambitious young people, I spent the next ten years helping my family: educating my siblings, building a house for my mother, and getting my sisters married. However, the 50K INR debt was never far from my thoughts, and I made plans to return the favor to my village in some meaningful way one day.
It took 14 years to act, but eventually I returned to my village ( which gave me a lot) in 2014 and started a tuition center to help kids. My objective at the time was to do a small intervention and then go back to my normal life. But as I’ve seen, life takes many unexpected turns. It’s been 7 years since that first center was founded and today, I continue this work, expanding centers and outreach to more than 120,000 students all across Odisha.
None of this would have been possible without the generosity and support we received from the CMO office now 30 years ago. I remain to this day thankful for the help I and my family received back then. It was the seed and ultimately the inspiration for my organization Aveti Learning, now changing lives all across the state. As I’ve seen in my own work and as I know in my own life, small interventions at the right time can change the course of history.
With sincere gratitude
Sushant is a mechanical engineer, teacher and social entrepreneur. He has translated over 700 math videos retaining the spirit of the original Khan Academy content but with analogies and examples taken from local text books. He believes with the aid of some technology and intelligent content, many students stand a chance to receive world class education that would fire their imagination and empower them.