It runs two schools, an ITI, an orphanage for girls and a distance education centre of AMU
Sami Ahmad | Clarion India
GAYA, Bihar — Ten kilometres west of Bodhgaya in the Indian state of Bihar, where Gautam Buddha received enlightenment, is a century-old orphanage for Muslim boys at a place called Cherki on Gaya-Sherghati road. It was established in October 1917 in a thatched cottage with one teacher and two orphan boys. The cottage was rented for fifty paise per month. Now, it has its own building complex on two-and-a-half acres of land.
Started as YateemKhana-e-Islamia, today it is also called GMO or Gaya Muslim Orphanage which has blossomed as a care and education centre for the area, particularly for the Muslim community whose literacy and employment rate is comparatively quite low. This institution provides both religious and contemporary education.
GMO is being run in a complex that hosts two schools, a hostel with mess, a library, a mosque and an industrial training institute (ITI).
Since 1986, the management of GMO is also running an orphanage for girls at a nearby village called Kalona in Gurua block of Gaya district. Kalona is the village of GMO’s founder Enayeth Khan (1885-1970) who was described as “Bihar’s Sir Syed” by late Ibrahim Suleiman Seth, Member of Parliament and chief of the Indian Muslim League. This orphanage, called Gaya Muslim Girls Orphanage (GMGO), was conceived by Enayeth Khan way back in 1938.
The GMO and GMGO together have around 200 orphans. Enayeth Khan’s family members are actively involved in the management of both the institutions.
A distance education centre of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is also running at the GMO complex.
GMO has a unique feature of hosting some of the most respected personalities such as former President of India Dr. Zakir Hussain; former Chief Justice of India A.M. Ahmadi; former Governor of Bihar A. R. Qidwai; Muslim League chief Ibrahim Suleiman Seth; renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, popularly known as Ali Mian; and Mohammd Farooq Khan, the scholar known for translating Quran into Hindi. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, on a visit to Bodhgaya, had wished to visit GMO but could not do so because of lack of prior security arrangement.
The introductory folder of GMO says that the orphanage was started with Rs. 30 but now it has a budget of Rs. 30 lakh. This is managed by community funding in India and abroad with FCRA registration.
This century-old orphanage is currently facing fund crunch, thanks to the Covid 19-induced lockdown declared in March last year. Zulfiquar Hasan Khan, secretary, GMO, says, “Cash collection was badly affected during the lockdown. It was almost nothing. We managed with only online contributions which we continued to receive.” He explains further, “as there were no classes and hostels were closed because of the lockdown, there was no expenditure on these heads. However, teaching and non-teaching staff had to be paid their salaries. We could do it with great difficulty.”
This institution takes help in the form of sponsorship of an orphan, tools for technical education and the equivalent to one room’s construction, salary of teacher and Zakat, etc. The sponsorship scheme is Called “Kafala”. An individual donor is required to pay Rs. 20,000 for one orphan boy for one year. For Enayeth ITI, one can contribute technical tools, says Khan. “Lots of tools are required to run ITI, especially if you want to start a new trade. We had started this institute with just one Electrical trade. Today, we have a full range of trades,” he said.
Those who want to donate for rooms, the estimate for the construction of one room is Rs 2 lakh, he added.
Many Muslims do not take interest from banks. GMO advises such Muslims not to leave the interest amount with bank. “Donate that accrued amount to us. We will spend it on educating the poor and the orphans,” said the GMO secretary.
It’s noteworthy that this Muslim orphanage has got support from local Hindus as well. In 1942, one Mrs. Bindhyachal Devi donated land to the orphanage. A book on its founder Enayeth Khan states that this institution has been an example of communal harmony where children of the Hindu community also get education. “A number of Hindu students of the area have studied in our school. Currently their number has gone down because several other schools have come up in the area,” Khan said.
GMO has its own website www.gmogaya.in where information is available in two languages; Urdu and English. Its Hindi and Arabic pages are also in the offing.
Minhajul Islam is the Principal of GMO Urdu High School affiliated to Bihar School Examination Board. He says that the school has three types of students. There are around 85 orphans with full free arrangements, 50 hostellers who pay for the facilities and 425 day-scholars.
In 2020, 64 students out of 140 got first division in matriculation.
Every year new admission for orphans is announced and no one is refused admission if the boy is found eligible. Though the students are mostly from Gaya district and the adjoining districts of Jharkhand state, some of the students also come from West Bengal. There are 18 teaching staff and 10 non-teaching staff employed here.
Enayeth ITI, run by the GMO, has an annual intake of 80 students where they get half and full free-ship depending on their financial condition. This ITI offers a good opportunity to the students who can’t afford higher technical education.
The distance education centre of AMU has come as a great help, especially to the girl students of the area. Around 400 students, mostly girls, are enrolled at this centre. It gives a great relief to those guardians who are not in a position to send their daughters away for higher education.
Noted orthopaedic surgeon of Gaya, Dr. Farasat Hussain, is the president of the ten-member management committee that looks after GMO. He says that the sustenance of a charity-based orphanage like GMO for over hundred years is no mean achievement. Talking to Clarion India, he said that GMO management is trying to get the Urdu High School upgraded to Plus-2 level from its current Class-10 level. The management also plans to start an engineering college, he said.