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8th July 2013

posted 13 Jul 2013, 10:38 by Narssimhan Kannan   [ updated 16 Jul 2013, 06:12 ]
A couple of my friends wanted to come and visit the school. We juggled the dates and decided on the 8th of July. School had already started a few weeks back. We had managed to ship the notebooks, pencils and erasers through courier.

We had successfully been able to collect money for the economically challenged children of both the English and Marathi mediums. We also got the funds for the water connection. A kind donor had agreed to take care of the school bus every month. The only thing remaining was the salaries of the teachers for which we are still falling short by around Rs. 9,000 per month.

I spoke to Sunil Bhalke and he wanted us to be there on the 8th so that we could distribute all the books, pencils, erasers and the other stuff to the economically challenged students and all the other students. I wrote to all the donors so that they could accompany me. Three replied. Two could not make it and one, who stays in Pune, agreed to come along.

I woke up at 4:30 am and left by 5:30, picked up the donor, Ms. Suchitra Shettigar in Pune and reached the school by 10 am. The trip on the Expressway was very picturesque. Everything was green. I have tried to capture some moments. At one point before Lonavala, I passed through a cloud which had decided to grace the Expressway.

I was supposed to reach the school by 9 am. Traffic at the Katraj naka and a politician's convoy delayed the entire thing by an hour. To add to my woes, the road resembled the surface of the moon. The moment I reached the school, I saw the children sitting on the ground waiting for us. I felt guilty. I immediately asked Mr. Bhalke, how long they had been outside. He said for the last 10-15 minutes. I felt a little better.

A small table had been placed in front of the children and a few chairs for all of us. On one chair was the photograph of Goddess Saraswati with all the paraphernalia for the puja. I was requested to initiate the puja with the lighting of the lamp, incense sticks and breaking of the coconut. Everybody else followed. Once we had invoked the blessings of the Goddess of Knowledge, the Principal of the school initiated the programme.

She first asked Mr. Bhalke to speak a few words, followed by Mr. Suresh Jagade (Trustee), Mr. Kiran Yepre (grandson of Ramchandra Yepre) and yours truly. I began my speech by apologising to the children for arriving late. Fortunately, I was forgiven. I asked them to thank Mr. Bhalke, Mr. Yepre and most importantly, their teachers. I requested them not to trouble the teachers and listen to them as much as possible. We all had a round of applause for the selfless work of the teachers.

It was now time for the distribution of the goodies. We started with the 20 children who are economically challenged, then followed it by all the other students (starting from playgroup to the 4th grade). Ms. Shettigar had got some chocolates for the children which she started distributing simultaneously. By the time we finished, it was 11 am.
We rested for a while and I told Mr. Bhalke that I wanted to spend some time with the children. While we were resting and talking, the school went into recess and all the children started playing outside. I have captured a very interesting video of these moments.

After our rest and some refreshments, I took up a class of 3rd and 4th standard students and taught them some mathematics. Ms. Shettigar spent some time with the 2nd grade students. She also took them out and played some games. I almost spent two hours teaching them some 'fundas' and expansion of numbers. Though the syllabus was for the 4th graders, even the 3rd graders understood and after some time started participating. It was one of the most satisfying two hours of my life.

At precisely 1 pm, the bell was sounded and all the children started rushing outside. The school bus had already arrived and slowly, the bus owner/driver started helping all the children get in. I have captured a video of these moments.

The children I taught became my friends and were waving out to me continuously from the bus.
It was time to leave. I said my farewells to the teachers, Mr. Bhalke and left. I dropped Ms. Shettigar near her home on the highway and drove back to Mumbai.

It was raining cats and dogs and occasionally a few cows too. I was ruminating on the satisfaction that I experienced after my class. The bright faces of the students kept coming back to me when they would get an answer right. These children had almost nothing, but they had a lot of enthusiasm and hope in their eyes.

I had an idea! But that is another story...