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7th May 2013

posted 19 May 2013, 22:21 by Narssimhan Kannan   [ updated 19 May 2013, 22:40 ]
I wanted to take my son, Nakshatraa to the Yepre school for a long time now. My daughter, Natasha had visited it a couple of times and knew the struggles and underprivileged nature of the school. This time the Almighty gave me a great opportunity to not only take my son and daughter but also the children (Achal and Aman) of one of my friends who has also been extremely supportive of our endeavour with respect to Yepre.

We had been to Imagica the previous day so were very tired. My dear friends Sreekanth and Rama who stay in Pune were kind enough to give us shelter for a night. The five of us blitzkrieged their home at around 11:30 pm the previous night. My son had already gone off to sleep while we were all having dinner so; we quickly prepared the beds and retired.

We all woke up at around 7:30 am. Got ready and left for the school. It is almost an hour’s drive from Aundh where we were staying. We first reached the place where we used to stay for almost 2 ½ years while we were in Pune. The roads, the restaurants, the shops all brought a sense of nostalgia to our minds (I and Natasha). We first stopped for breakfast. This is where Mr. Sunil Bhalke met us. We had breakfast together. Sunil joined in the cheerful banter of the children.

On our way from the restaurant to the school, I mentioned the real reason as to why I wanted the children to see the school. The first reason was for them to realise how fortunate they were and how many of the unfortunate struggle to study and try to make a living in this world. The second was for them to understand that it was important to give back to society a portion of what you earn as an expression of gratitude of what you have received. The third and most important was to be humbled by the whole experience. To realise how insignificant, how small we all are and how there is so much more to do in a lifetime, especially for others, if we choose to do so.

We reached the school at around 11:30 am. Sunil had called his son, Swapnil, the two principals (Marathi and English mediums) and one teacher. The maid had also come. It was vacation time, so the school was specially opened for us. I expressed my displeasure to Sunil for dragging all the teachers and the staff during vacation. They reassured me that the effort was not significant.

We took a round of the school. I explained to the children about how every classroom is divided into two so that two different standards can study simultaneously, the absence of electricity and water, the plaster on the back of the walls which prevents scorpions and snakes from entering the classrooms and the undeveloped infrastructure of the school.

Finally, I got to see the completed toilets! Three toilets had been constructed for the ladies. The gent’s urinal had been planned on the back portion of the toilets and was still to be constructed. A small staircase had also been constructed in the same budget and a water tank had been installed. There was no water connection right now but that was the next project for us.

The children were very enthusiastic and saw everything. Nakshatraa roamed into all the classrooms and took a round of the entire school while Natasha was busy clicking pictures, documenting our entire trip. Achal and Aman also seemed inspired and interested.

We then assembled in a classroom, had some cold drinks (which had quickly turned warm) to beat the sweltering heat, and discussed the plan for the next year with the teachers and Sunil. I got the budget and the numbers for the economically challenged students and promised to get everything organised before June 2013 when the next academic year would start. This is where I will need your help.

It was time for a group photograph. We left, bidding goodbye to everyone thinking about the disparities of this world. The children were silent for a long time before my daughter broke the silence. She asked, “Appa, can we teach here? We should come here once a month and teach the children about things they do not learn in the normal curriculum.” I smiled and replied, “Of course you can…”

Even if it was miniscule, I was hoping that the trip would have made a difference within the children. I was glad that it had; the seeds of ‘giving’ had been planted in the next generation.