Aug 15 2014, I reluctantly spoke to a group of residents in Nellurhalli at their Flag Hoisting event as they had wanted to learn all about Whitefield Rising and how they could participate. Its a good thing my reluctance did not get the better of me that day as I squirmed at the idea of being a chief guest, because, what they went ahead and did as Nellurhalli Rising would never have happened!
That group took on everything with a zeal. Asking for help as necessary, they first did some spot fixes and saw the community really come together. They worked to relocate some hawkers, enjoyed the newfound friendships in neighborhood communities and even extended their friednship to the village. Then one day, they discovered a local park. Surprisingly unused, it was full of old beautiful trees. Recent experts that they were in spot fixing, they quickly decided that they wanted to spruce it up and encourage its use by everyone in the area. Here is the thing though, when this group wants to do something, they just “DO”. Like the next day! So before you knew it, they were at the park, having rallied up neighbors to contribute their time and money on weekend mornings. Oracle decided to make this their CSR activity and provided their support. However, things didnt just stop there. While at the park, the guys spotted children from the slum right next door just hanging about and helping them paint benches etc. Further conversations led to the awareness that this was a migrants’ slum full of workers and kids. They had come here from different parts of India and didnt necessarily know the language or have surety of work. So these kids were left to just fend for themselves as school was not quite an option. (Government schools teach in Kannada. Private schools are very expensive). So now the Nellurhalli Rising team had a new challenge to work on. The Park was all done. As a community they couldn’t let these kids just squander away their potential.
Turns out, there was a Government School building right next door! Unused. Well sort of. There were building contractors and such camped out in it with building materials stored! What if. Do we dare dream? What if we could rejuvenate that building and get these kids to hop to that school? But where do we begin? How do you even just start up a government school and begin teaching with any regularity etc?
Well you know what they say.. If you build it they will come. So WR was built and with it came the best of the best.
Srinivas said – No problem , I take accountability and will get it all done
Sumedha stepped up and said – Ah no worries we can get the Block Education Officer and the original Nellurhalli Govt School principal to help out.
Anu P said – no problem, we can work on Water, Power etc.
Nitesh said – no problem, we will work on toilets
Sampath Uncle said – no problem, always wanted to supply breakfast to these kids
Mom said – Oh this is exactly what the Samruddhi Trust was set up for. To do a 1 year bridge program for such kids to then adjust them back into regular schools in the following year.
Muruga said – Right, when do we get started.
Clement- infected by their enthusiasm, TESCO employee Clement decided he would rally company help for the school.
Literally, as we blinked, the school was transformed. A JCB came and cleared things away. Construction material made way for classrooms with light and walls painted with cheer. Permissions were got. Breakfast program got underway and teachers came through.
3 weeks later, the school opened. And just like that, all the kids assembled and the teachers started teaching them their morning song. “We brush brush brush our teeth, comb comb comb our hair….” ! And 2 weeks later, they pulled off their first stage performance. And in the corner of the room by the window and behind the chief guests for the event huddled Muruga hanging on to the wire that snaked out of the window and into some mysterious power source so as to provide music for the children’s dance. Refusing any accolades, he laughs the “laugh”. The WR laugh of the champ that has had his heart’s contentment from the difference he made. Mere words of praise from others are but water off his back. His partner Srinivas couldn’t agree more.