When Ashwini Charitable Trust (ACT) adopted the Government Tamil Primary School in Murphy Town, Bangalore, the twin mandates we assigned to ourselves were very clear - i.) To improve the basic language and math skills of the children studying in the school and, ii.) To repair and rebuild the infrastructure of the school so that the 80+ children studying there are in a safe, secure, clean and attractive environment.
On our very first visit to the school, we fell in love with the ancient colonial era school building and its annexe, and the vast green ground stretching behind it. But a closer look revealed the reality behind the facade. The thick walls of the building were hollowed out by termites, the roof leaked during the rains, the children's toilets were crumbling and choked with refuse, one syntex tank serviced the whole school for both drinking and washing up purposes and the green cover on the ground was actually overgrown weeds and brambles.
Even as we were taking stock of the broken furniture, walls and windows, ACT volunteers were on the job from day one, teaching those children who are weak in studies and were lagging behind others in class, basic reading, writing and comprehension skills. ACT has bought a whole series of graded books, which would take these children through the process of gradually acquiring language skills.
Repair work of the building started with the walls being treated for termite infestation and then filled with concrete before being painted a cheerful yellow colour. One room was transformed into a computer room, with two computer terminals and another into a library. ACT had organised for volunteers from companies like Cisco, Synopsis, Thomson Reuters and Citrix to interact with the school children and teachers as part of their companys' CSR initiative. Cisco volunteers even taught the school teachers, including the Head Mistress, basic computer skills, and 101 volunteers from Synopsis deweeded the garden and painted the classroom walls, doors and windows.
Once the summer vacation started, ACT got the childrens' toilets totally redone with continuous water supply and also organised a lady to clean both the girls' and the boys' toilets twice a day during school days. An aquaguard water filter has been fitted in the drinking water area so that the children get clean poatble water to drink. The washing up area has also been redone with a long, cement wash basin and an outlet for used water.
Tarpaulin sheets have been spread on the roof to take care of the leaks, and the classroom windows have been repaired with all the grills redone in order to ensure safety for the children. ACT has also got more than 50 saplings in the school premises.
Now when we visit the school, we are greeted by flowering plants and smiling faces.
But, this is just the beginning - a lot more needs to be done.