Think of Jalandhar Nayak, a vegetable vendor in a remote Indian village, as an education trailblazer.
Every day, Nayak’s three sons trudged over narrow, rocky pathways as part of their six-hour commute to and from school. So for past two years, Nayak, 45, has spent eight hours a day building a wider road through the mountainous terrain around his home.
The 5-mile-long road he built provides a safer, more direct route for his children and significantly cuts down on their travel time
“My children found it hard to walk on the narrow and stony path while going to their school. I often saw them stumbling against the rocks and decided to carve a road through the mountain so that they can walk more easily,” Nayak told News World Odisha.
#EXCLUSIVE#NewsWorldOdisha— News World Odisha (@newsworldodisha) January 2, 2018
Jalandhar Nayak of #Kandhamal turns the #MountainMan of #Odisha by his expedition of carving a path to his house through 5 mountains; He has managed to carve a 8ft wide road trough 3 mountains so far.#NewsWorldOdisha Discovers The #Manjhi of #Odishapic.twitter.com/FjCyhXfvBi
Nayak’s work isn’t finished, however. He plans to extend his road an additional four miles and the local government has agreed to assist with his DIY infrastructure project. A local administrator said he would finance construction and send work crews to clear the roadway.
Nayak and his family are the only people left in their remote village after neighbors moved to areas with better facilities, but the government will reward him for his work.
“Nayak’s effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound,” a local administrator told the Hindustan Times. “He will be paid . . . for all the days he has worked,” collector Brundha D told a reporter
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According to a report released last year by UNESCO, 264 million children around the world lack to access to education. But that number could be even higher if not for the determination of families and children.
Nayak’s Herculean effort to ensure his children receive an education reflects the extraordinary lengths to which children and families go to stay in school around the world. Each day, children overcome violence, dangerous terrain, extreme conditions, stigma, and poverty to get to class.
In a village in China’s Sichuan Province, children climb a rickety ladder up a 2,600-foot cliff and in Himalayas of northern India, children scramble across ice sheets and over frozen boulders to get to class.
Elsewhere, children take canoes, rickshaws, crowded horse carts, and even ziplines over canyons to make it to first period.
Even children in wealthy countries like the US face challenges posed by extreme weather.
On remote Michigan islands, for example, children mount snowmobiles and tow their younger siblings on plastic sleds through the blistering cold.
"Generally, we don't have snow days,” the school superintendent told Michigan Live. "Once you get your snowmobile stuff on, it's not going to stop you from getting to school.”