After spending twelve years in the slum of Pilkhana (The City of Joy), husband and wife Badel and Aloka Pal were able to save enough money to return to their home village of Basanti, in the heart of the wild and backward Sunderbans area of the Ganges delta.
There, Aloka started a small school for very poor children. First in her own house, then in a small rented hut, and finally in a larger shed, the school was so successful that it outgrew the ability of its founder to house it. Aloka wrote to Dominique Lapierre for help.
Not only did Lapierre buy the land upon which an all-weather brick school was built, he further agreed to support the education of some 150 children. In addition, he underwrote the creation of an embroidery program that would provide young girls with a marketable skill. Though in itself a small initiative, the Sundarbans Sopan brings education to children who might otherwise not have an opportunity to escape their poverty.