Abdul Malik, swims for a living but he’s not an Olympian. Instead he swims everyday because it is the only way to ensure he arrives on time at the school in which he teaches.
Malik says “Teaching is my life and these children depend on me so if swimming each day is the price I have to pay then so be it.”
Why does he have to swim? Malik lives in the Padinjatumuri village of Mallapuram district, which is traditionally a poor area. Therefore the only other feasible option for Malik is to take a bus. However, taking a bus would mean a 20-minute wait at the stop and a further 90 minutes to complete his journey, that is if Malik can even get on the bus. Often the bus is overcrowded and late so Malik feels he has little option but to swim as he wouldn’t be able to guarantee getting into work on time.
“There are no bridges to cross this river and the only other route to the school is a two-hour long trek via the bus which is always running late. Therefore, swimming happens to be the only choice and for me to teach my students then this is what I have to do.” says Malik.
So each morning Malik packs an extra pair of clothes, wraps a rubber tube around him and takes the plunge into the Kadalundi river. He has been doing this for the past 12 years.
“He is very punctual. In fact much more than those who use other modes of transport. His dedication to his work is superb,” says Headmaster of AMLPS School, K M Mohammed Basheer.
“We love this teacher,” says a student at the school where he teaches.
It’s no surprise he is so popular. He has never been late, not even during the monsoon, when the currents in the river are treacherous. Dangers may be many, but one thing that still motivates him to brave risks are the voices of his students.
“We wait for him to arrive each day, he’s such a great teacher. We depend on him to get a good education.” says one of his students.
Buying a boat is too expensive for Malik. But boat or no boat, Malik maintains that reaching his school and teaching his students is worth risking his life in the polluted Kadalundi river.
Thank you so much for the incredible response to this article, it is great to see so many of you inspired and moved by Malik.
Since publishing this article we’ve received an email to say that Malik has actually received a boat! The article is here http://www.thehindu.com/
We saw Malik’s picture posted on twitter earlier, with an accompanying caption, and had to share it given that it really follows in the ideals of ZIDILIFE. However, Malik’s story is actually a couple of years old hence why the fundraising campaign in 2014 was kicked off for him.
So the great news is that Malik has a boat and no longer needs to swim! Thank you all so much for your kind words and we’ll be sure to update the article and we will aim to reach out to Malik to get an update on his current progress!
The ZIDI team