Today I Was Knocked To The Ground In A Stampede

I’m physically OK but shaken.  I went to pick up the girls at school, their last day, day of results/report cards.  All the parents were herded into the area just inside the gates, but locked from the school itself.  The guards told us all to wait there, hundreds of us.  Gibi was with me, and we held hands trying not to be separated.  Then students started coming out, not by class order, some seemingly led by guardians, running as though through a gauntlet.  Then more students came running out and all of us tried to get to where they were before the students ran out into the street.  I got shoved into the fringe of the stampeding students and then was shoved to the ground.  It was surreal.  I keep re-living it in my mind, spinning, wondering what would happen to me as I watched students above me screaming and trying not to step on me.  Some women on the sidelines were able to pull me out and up.

I moved then towards the street, looking for my girls but also knowing I would not see them in a stampede.  They would be at the back, waiting for the others to pass.  I got out my camera that I’d brought to take a picture of our smiling girls on last day of school.  I held it up and snapped picture after picture.  Then I got the video going and held up the camera as literally hundreds of girls poured out, no school administrator in sight…

As the crowd slowed I saw one of the girls and then Gibi and the others.  Gibi looked disheveled.  She also had been knocked to the ground.  I’ve never heard or seen such a thing at a school in Kolkata and I’ve been involved in schools for 11 years now.  I have much more to write about this school.  I’ve held off until the girls were out of school and we won’t be sending them back there.  Yes, they have all been promoted.

All that happened at noon.  Now it is 3:30 pm.  I’ve cancelled classes here and I’m taking the girls to the mall for ice cream.  We are celebrating the end of this era at United Missionary Girls High School!  I needed to write this post first.  I’ll wrote more later.  I have more to write about this school 

Off the the mall, back later.

December 2011
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