In honor of the anniversary of the IAS, to be celebrated this weekend in the UK, here is a story about one of last year’s freedom medalists.
Fighting For The Rights Of India’s Most Neglected And Vulnerable
For those living in Calcutta, capital city of the West Indian state of Bengal, life presents a steady diet of human degradation.
Inspired by Calcutta icon Mother Theresa, Mohammad Khalil Ullah wanted to give the forgotten children of this city a chance for a better life. He was drawn in particular to helping the children of the Basti (slums). These are the orphans or impoverished children, trapped in a perpetual state of abject poverty, often becoming pawns in the drug and sex trades.
“Since my childhood,” says Khalil Ullah, “I always wanted to help and was always in search of how to help.” But it wasn’t until 2006 when he encountered the Volunteer Ministers Goodwill Tour through India, that he learned a successful technology allowing him to help anyone, anywhere to solve a variety of problems.
He gathered 125 friends and associates and established Calcutta’s first Volunteer Ministers team, the Scientology West Bengal Group. One of their first actions was to start the West Bengal Scientology Free School. Khalil Ullah, a trained teacher, taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic along with How to overcome the barriers to study from the Scientology Handbook.
Giving these abandoned children a chance to go to school, noble though it may be, is in vain when they have nothing to eat. Understanding this, Khalil Ullah provided the orphans with meals, basic health care and medicine at his own expense.
Next, the Scientology West Bengal Group established a school in the Entally, the ancestral land of the untouchables. “The victims of the caste system have always made my heart cry,” said Khalil Ullah. “I always think, ‘How can I make them free?’” Through the initiative of the Volunteer Ministers, for the first time in several generations, hundreds of children of the untouchables were able to receive an education.
Nevertheless this was only the beginning of the work in store for the Volunteer Ministers. “Education is vital, but street children of Calcutta were still in danger,” Khalil Ullah said. “Being a Volunteer Minister I could not close my eyes to everything else that threatened them.”
Khalil Ullah is referring to human trafficking where thousands of children are sold to brothels or farmed out to sweatshops. And so it was that one morning last year he was tipped off that homeless children living in a local train station were about to be shipped off to work in Bangladesh. He and his corps of Volunteer Ministers rushed to the station, where they were threatened by traffickers with knives and guns and told to mind their own business. But Ullah and his friends had already decided that this was their business and refused to back down. In the end, they rescued the first of what would be many groups of children who had previously known only fear and despair.
Khalil Ullah and his West Bengal Volunteer Ministers have since gone on to establish open-air schools for the children of migrant workers of Orissa, Uttar Pradash and Kharagpur, and now his schools are educating more than 10,000 children across the sprawl of Calcutta.
“As a soldier of the children, it is my responsibility to impart all of the Volunteer Minister technology so they can grow in a stable, safer and saner environment,” said Khalil Ullah.
That technology extends to all sectors of society. When 500 stilt houses burned in the Pancannangram slums, Ullah and his team brought aid to displaced persons. When the Kosi River overflowed in the state of Bihar, the Volunteer Ministers teams worked with the national disaster response force to deliver food and medical supplies to children in flood-locked villages. They helped rescue victims from the Chandni Market Fire and aided injured children in the Mumbai terrorist attack. They provided sustenance to children who had never known a regular meal and brought medical aid wherever these youth were threatened by typhus, cholera and polio.
To date, Scientology Volunteer Ministers of West Bengal under the leadership of Mohammad Khalil Ullah have reached 50,000 individuals in need, effectively demonstrating these words from Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard:
“If one does not like the crime, cruelty, injustice and violence of this society, he can do something about it. He can become a VOLUNTEER MINISTER and help civilize it, bring it conscience and kindness and love and freedom from travail by instilling into it trust, decency, honesty and tolerance.”
By assisting children to grow up with the security and knowledge to realize their full potential, Mohammad Khalil Ullah exemplifies what it means to be a Scientology Volunteer Minister.