Following Mahatma Gandhi's miraculous footsteps
The seventy seven year old school, whose foundation was laid by Mahatma Gandhi has got a new lease of life, thanks to the members of Yuva Bengaluru
Kiran Gangadhar was just living an ordinary life until he found the real meaning to his life. He serendipitously got his hand on the book India 2020, which is co-authored by none other than our former president APJ Abdul Kalam. As Kiran was turning pages of the manuscript he soon had his moment of epiphany. He realized that as a citizen he is responsible to do something for the betterment of the society. “It was then I realized that I am just whiling away my time during the weekends. the only thought that engulfed me was how can I bring about a change in our society as a citizen. And I realized that education is the only real solution to bring about a change. Issues like unemployment, corruption, poverty can only be eradicated if the roots of education are strong in our system,” says Kiran.
And soon Kiran along with his friends figured out four such places in the vicinity of his area to voluntarily go and spend time during the weekends. The result was Arya Seva Samaj, Deena Seva Sangha School, SoCare and VV Giri Slum. “We just thought that it will be better to start off with something in and around the area I stay in. I soon started visiting Deena Seva Sangha regularly and soon I got an opportunity to be a part of Teach India Movement. I was actively involved with the movement for about 4-5 months and simultaneously visited the school as well,” says Kiran, whose involvement with Deena Seva Sangha School, a school for under-privileged children did not go unnoticed.
The principal of the school walked up and expressed his agony to him, which swept Kiran off his feet. “I had no idea about the history of the school. When I learnt that T Ramachandran invited none other than Mahatma Gandhi to lay the foundation of the school, I was flabbergasted. The principal also told me that in the year 1934 they built 26 rooms to accommodate 1500 students. But in 2008 they just had around around 150 students,” he states.
The reason for such a clash down in attendance was the lack of proper infrastructure. The school then lacked a proper roof which couldn’t even withstand the showers, it did not even have bathroom facility for the children and for classrooms to have the basic amenities of desk and benches were too much to ask for. “The total estimated cost of renovation came about 15 lakhs. And when I told this to my friends most of them initially backed out. All of them just had one thing to say, ’15 lakhs for just 150 children,’ At that point it was just me and another team member Shantala. We went back to the other group members and explained that we are not asking them to shell out the money for the project but all need is their support,” explains Kiran.
And once the cajoling was done the rest of the plan just fell in place for them. They soon came out a blog called 'Yuva Bengaluru' which they shared amidst their friends. They also started an ‘Old Newspaper Drive’ where they went to each and every house in Kumara Park and collected old newspapers to generate money for the school. ”In just one day we had collected around thousand kilos of newspapers and when we sold them we got Rs 3270/-. And when the people in the vicinity got to know that Mahatma Gandhi had laid the foundation they were curious to check out the place and soon our school was flooded with visitors,” he explains. The team had also set up a presentation about their future plans to the public and in just a day's time, they successfully collected 9 lakhs. “It took us nearly four months to complete the project and get the school was back with a bang,” says Kiran.
Deena Seva Sangha School now boasts of a computer lab, a/v room, and a play area, apart from it being completely revamped. They are seven Government and six Yuva Bengaluru teachers who teach the state syllabus in two vernacular languages - Kannada and Tamil to 400 students. And soon they will be taking a whole new route. Yes! The school is going to turn into an English medium from the coming academic year. “English is very important for everyone to learn. And any school which has completed fifteen years can apply for its conversion into an English medium. But we have completed seventy seven years and this was the step we just couldn’t help but take. It is the need of the hour,” he says.
If you would like to visit the school or donate, contact Yuva Bengaluru