Friday, January 29, 2010

Change starts with Me

My schedule for Republic days (after graduation) is waking up late followed by hogging heavy breakfast watching special programs on the TV. Then I would probably do a hair cut, clean house or visit a friend. So my mother had every reason to be surprised when I got all cleaned up to go at 7:00 am on 26th Jan. Her expression got better or rather close to shock when I told her that I am visiting a school. Going by the recent events she might have thought I am up to taking a teacher job, or worse one with no pay.
A flag hoisted by a proud yet very questionable Indian
After assuring my intensions very clearly (that means sitting next to her and talking for a long time) I set to visit the school I have been associated for the last five years ran by my friend cum ex-colleague Sangeetha. She is talented, well educated software professional with fine ideals towards humanity. Under the guidance of her retired father Mr.Rajappa, Sangeetha and 5 other (software professional) friends started the charitable trust called “Sai Sankalp” in 2002.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. - Nelson Mandela"

The main project of this trust is “Sai Sankalp Nursery & Primary School “located at a village named Arasankazhani near Medavakkam, Chennai. The school provides FREE, yet quality English medium education to children from economically weaker section in the nearby villages. When she told me about the project years back, I was so inspired and became a part of it since then.

When purpose is right and heart is pure, growth is inevitable. That’s what happened to this school. It started with a single thatched room with handful of students, but now it has 7 spacious class rooms, 5 teachers and 150 students (most of them are first generation learners) and teaches up to 3rd standard.
The Campus, Mr Rajappa drives his car upteen miles everyday to fetch and drop the teachers
I had a fair idea what to expect when I entered the campus which was all ready to celebrate the Republic day. Right then Mr. Rajappa, who is also the principle of the school shocked me by saying I am the chief guest of the function. It was very odd sitting on the stage in front of all those children, teachers and parents.
The March fast by 3rd standard students.
He spoke about my volunteer works and my association with the school, which made me further more uncomfortable. I was totally flabbergasted when I was asked to hoist the flag! I had no other choice but to raise to the occasion. Later I distributed prizes and also gave an informal speech to the students. It was very heartening to see those kids, eagerly greeting and accepting the prizes with polite “thank you sir”.
All set to go after the chocolate distribution
Although it felt good to be doing this, I had this huge guilty feeling about being the chief guest. The real Heroes were them, for running a free school is no cake walk. Every member of the trust is taken an area to work. Sangeetha is in charge of setting the syllabus, teachers and quality of education of the school. I also had the opportunity to meet the other members and spoke about the challenges involved. While some just complain and speak about growth of India these people work silently to strengthen its back bone – the education. I believe it’s high time for such action.
Sharing, the only way to grow together.
Out of three pre owned computers in the lab, only one is functional now. The library is accepting second hand children books and don’t have enough of them. Construction of 4th and 5th standard is awaiting funds. And I feel it can use a load of publicity. I am part of their “sponsor a teacher” program. I send my contribution equivalent to that of a teacher’s salary, every month. Considering the enormity of the project this is very small. But if every drop thinks small of itself there wouldn’t be ocean. I returned home with a fulfillment. This is my country and these are my people and I am proud to support them.
Srivats
p.s: If you like to be associated with the school please write to me at nasrivatsan@gmail.com or to Sangeetha at saisankalptrust@yahoo.com

22 comments:

Charissism said...

I am speechless, you are such an admirable person. I am very honored to have met you in this lifetime. (cheesy I know) haha You deserved to be the chief guest of honor Sri, hats off to you! :)

A journey called Life said...

u keep surprising us Sri, all the time.. this is such a noble initiative Sangeetha and her dad's- please pass on my best wishes to them..and i like the way u say there are some real kind souls who work silently to strengthen the back bone which undoubtedly is education

Karthik said...

What to say, this is sooo inspiring and kudos to all of you!!

Swaram said...

Nice to see ppl who walk the talk! And its so nice u r a part of it too .. my best wishes with the school! Kudos to them!
Loved the pics ..its so nice to see the kids where they actually belong and not begging or working to earn their bread! God bless!

Chatterbox said...

Wow! that was a motivating post right from it's title. It's a wonderful and very noble effort by your friend Sangeetha and her dad.

Loved the words,"When purpose is right and heart is pure, growth is inevitable."

Good to see pictures of children enjoying being a part of this wonderful effort.

I can imagine what must have crossed your mind while sitting at the stage. The feeling of responsibility such an occasion thrushes on us is often overwhelming.

Keep up the wonderful work Sri.

Cheers!!

deep said...

wowww..that is really great..
there is no way to express the gratitude to such people unless we get up and take such steps..and hold hands with them.. :O

அன்புடன் அருணா said...

The very same old reasons that take me again and again to this page...You are a wonderful person Sri!
Being a chief guest would have boosted up your spirits.Cheer up!You realllllllllly deserve that space Sri!

Smita said...

Seriously the whole effort reeks of nobility!!! People like me keep talking about these things either in our blogs or in person! It is people who really make the difference matter!!!

CY|\|O$|_|RE said...

no words to express but that's a great feeling and its nice that u r associated with them.....these people are always gr8.....

congrts for surprise chief guest honor Sri.....wish all the best to school from my side......

jehan said...

you truly deserve it Sri.. and i'm so honored you take the time to visit my blog (really.. haha)

an eye opener for me who graduated from a catholic high school- (full scholarship) funded by people from all over the world and their main branch is here in Seoul, South Korea and i haven't even visited them yet...

R-ambam said...

Free school ! that s fantastic !

Photo Cache said...

I can imagine how awkward you felt when you realized on the spot that you were the guest of honor.

Your friend and the school are doing a great job. I hope they find ways to keep the school in operation.

I enjoyed your previous post too and I applaud you for being in good terms with your ex. I don't think I am mature enough to have that relationship :)

mybittersweetkoreanlife said...

It's amazing isn't it? Becoming an instrument to change other people's lives.. I'm absolutely sure you deserve every inch of that title. Those kids look adorable by the way.

Vidya said...

You wonder me every single time! And you make me proud just by association with me! :D

Hats off to you!

Ramesh said...

Sri, You, Sangeeta, Rajappa and all the others associated with the school are the true heroes ; you are a role model for all of us to follws. Kudos Sri; you are truly admirable

RamMmm said...

Blood, sweat, tears and toil is what matters to those who run this. Money is immaterial. Folks who do this are worthy of all respect. Salute.

Reminded me of one of the posts long back by Athivas about "The School" (btw, she seems to have gone into hibernation!, pulled the plug on her blog as well)

mybittersweetkoreanlife said...

do you know their cute and colorful uniforms put the 'cool' in school? I dreamt of wearing those as a kid.

Srivats said...

@Chariss
haha yea very cheezy :P

@AJCL
We miss you writing AJCL, u are such a inspiration to me , I am coming up with some ways to make u write and u would be even more surprised :)

@Karthik
Thanks for supporting:)

@Swaram
Well said, its through education we can do all that we want to do :)

@Chatterbox
Such an apt comment for this post ;) U can empathise very well, one of the best qualities of humanity :)

@Deep
YEs correct! THanks for supporting :)

@Aruna
People silently do some many things, and look at me writing about this hehe, no wonder i felt guitly well I just wanted to give the school some publicity, but alas ppl praise me ;)

@Smita
Even writing helps, look at me. I am sure ppl who read would do something but as u said it also matter if we get down to the job :)

@Cynosure
Haha thanks brother for supporting :)

@Jehan
I think u should visit them and probably see what you can do for them :) just a request :)

@R-ambam
Thanks for supporting!

Srivats said...

@Photocache
thanks for supporting! haha maturity becomes necessity sometimes :)

@MybittersweetkoreanLife
Thanks for supporting Emma, yes they look lovely, thier education and even the uniform is in par with western school. thats the speciality, even I liked to wear colored ones when I was a kid. But I got to wear the white one and kahaki pant :)

@Vidya
Thanks for supporting! :)

@Ramesh
Periya vaarthai ellam edhukku :) Thanks a lot for supporting me and for the contributions :) I am very grateful for all your help and care

@Rammm
Yes I too remembered it when I wrote it. She has decided to stop posting, inspite of our efforts to make her blog :( Good writer she is! I hope she comes back again.

kanagu said...

This is really a wonderful and noble thing... my hats off to everyone who were involved in this project...

surely these people makes a difference in many people's lives with their action...

Prats said...

I have nothing to say...Absolutely humbled by the great work you and your friends have been doing...Kudo to all the folks behind this fabulous idea.

jehan said...

hi Sri! yes, i will definitely visit them when the weather gets warmer (oh and there's still a condition, haha)...

they actually have a chapel near our home. i'm just so blessed that there's a catholic chapel nearby.

it's difficult being away from home. i sometimes miss my family. and i find it the only place of solitude when i feel so low..