A New Beginning for the Future of Society
Samikha Srinivasan, Robbinsville High School, Robbinsville, New Jersey, USA
As I enter a classroom filled with radiant hues of color, my eyes shift to the children wearing uniforms and sitting at a wooden desk eager to learn. A few years ago, I visited Divya Deepa Kaliyuva Mane Charitable Trust in Mysore, India which is a school run by my uncle, Anand. The charitable trust aims to help children in the town of Mysore and other parts of rural India gain access to education and basic necessities. Uncle Anand created a safe place for the students: a place that the children can call home. Through my experience of engaging with the students and helping organize fundraisers at the school, I was able to understand the true impact of my actions of providing accessible education to the future of today’s society. I realized that providing just one student with a new beginning can have a meaningful impact towards creating equal opportunities for education.
I held onto my mother’s hand as we stepped off the double decker train onto a railway station platform. There were aunties wearing traditional Indian clothing and children carrying umbrellas twice their size. In the midst of the crowd, I found my aunt and uncle waving at us, and they welcomed my mother and I with open arms. A van was parked outside the railway station. The van driver, a man in his mid-fifties with a cordial smile, waved to us as he packed our suitcases in the trunk of the van. My cousin, Krishna, was seated in the passenger seat and started talking to us in his mother tongue, Kannada. He gestured to the scenery outside as we passed the Bangalore Junction railway station and headed towards my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Mysore. Usually, when one hears of Mysore, they imagine beautiful palaces, temples, and the exquisite Brindavan Gardens. However, my Aunt and her family lived in a specific region of Mysore, where abandoned houses were constructed using slabs of wooden blocks drenched in sweat and tears. Children played with toys that their parents built for them using their bare hands. Sand piled in several corners where beetles dig holes to hide leftover food. In the middle of all the chaos lay a school built from the foundations of sand and cement. Divya Deepa Kaliyuva Mane stood with indestructible support. Kaliyuva Mane means “Home For Learning” in Kannada. This was a school that provided hope to children.
My uncle Anand envisioned Divya Deepa school to be a safe place for children who were impoverished and deprived of their circumstances. When children attend Divya Deepa school, they forget about their miseries at home, and think optimistically about their future. Uncle Anand created a safe place for underprivileged children, children with disabilities, and children who had a difficult time attending regular schools. After the school was established in June 2005, Abdul Kalam, former president of India, visited the school grounds to speak to my Uncle about the charitable trust, and get to know the students. His school, which started with a small building built from rubbles of cement and a metal roof, grew to encompass several buildings and classrooms for various educational departments. The goal of the charitable trust was to transform these children into independent citizens by providing them love and education.
One day, as I was walking around the school campus, I came across the Mathematics classroom where children were writing on chalkboards. The sound of chalk against the rigid surface board caught my attention. As I entered the classroom, I saw a young girl writing math equations on the chalkboard. Her eyes concentrated on the board in front of her, and her legs paced nervously back and forth. The young girl’s name was Bhoomika. Bhoomika’s father passed away at a young age, and she has four siblings whom she had to take care of. Bhoomika’s mother has a difficult time supporting her family, and she often had to find ways to earn money by working jobs that provided her with insufficient funds. Bhoomika knew how to take care of herself, and she worked hard to pass her tenth grade exams. She was determined to create her own path, which she forged through hard work and dedication. On the weekends, she stayed at school to study for exams, and ate healthy meals along with her siblings and friends. After learning Bhoomika’s story, I understood how many students struggle on a daily basis with the strife they encounter in their personal lives. Through the school, students like Bhoomika had the opportunity to create a life for themselves with the resources that the school provided for them.
When I came back to America, I spearheaded fundraisers where I sold Indian food and educated individuals in my neighborhood about Divya Deepa Charitable Trust. I raised enough money to provide three children with basic necessities, quality education, and a new beginning. After my grandparents passed away, my family and I decided to host special lunch meals which consisted of a variety of Indian food for the students at Divya Deepa. The children were content with their tummies full of food that reminded them of their culture. I got involved in global health issues relevant to accessible education for children worldwide and partnered with organizations such as GiveIndia and Global Partnerships for Education to organize fundraisers. I shared my experiences of visiting the school with American Kahani, a platform where Indian Americans are able to discuss societal issues in India.
Through this entire journey, I learnt that anyone can make a positive impact towards students’ education. Taking the time to tutor underprivileged children or volunteering for an online learning center are some ways that people can make a difference in places that lack quality education. All it takes to provide a new beginning for the future of our society is our dedication, resourcefulness, and a genuine heart.