These kids are changing their world

Talk about thinking outside the box.

Amlan Ganguly had this idea about how to improve communities in Kolkata, India. Why not, he figured, employ children to help fight disease, poverty, despair and deprivation in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world?

And why not film it and then show it on public television to tell the world about the success he is seeing?

Independent Lens, PBS’s documentary series, is showing a program to air at 9 p.m. Monday on Panhandle PBS that tells a gripping story of three children Ganguly has put to work fighting to make a better life.

“The Revolutionary Optimists” tells a compelling story of how kids use their skills to bring fresh water to neighborhoods and educate citizens on how to fight disease.

One of the kids is Kajal. The PBS website says this about her: “Twelve-year-old Kajal lives inside a brickfield gate and spends her days washing dishes and carrying bricks. She dreams of becoming a tailor. After Amlan sets up a makeshift school, Kajal suddenly has the chance to have an education. But when her mother falls ill, she must balance her desire to learn and with her need to survive.”

Independent Lens is a series of programs featuring independent filmmakers chronicling stories that need telling. “The Revolutionary Optimists” was produced by Nicole Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen. They’ve both been honored for their work. Newnham produced the film “The Rape of Europe” that told the story of the theft of art treasures during World War II. Grainger-Monsen is a physician the founder and director of the Program in Bioethics in Film at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics.

The children followed by this film are setting an example that their elders — let alone their peers — should emulate. Best friends walk miles daily to deliver potable water to slums. A teenager founds a dance troupe to encourage children to stay in school.

Who thinks of doing these things?

Well, it appears that some intrepid youngsters, led by a former lawyer and a community activist in one of the world’s largest — and most destitute — cities are thinking a good bit outside of the proverbial box.

They truly are revolutionaries.


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