“Put a girl on the path to education and she’ll teach the entire community,” quotes Rani, a 13 year old, when asked about the importance of education. The statement has a profound impact when coming from a teenage girl in a remote village of India. At this tender age, she’s already been hardened by the challenges life has thrown at her. She has been forced to drop out of primary school twice owing to her family’s financial constraints; managing to convince her parents to send her back to school each time. What adds to her parents’ hesitance is that the school is located 45 kms away from her residence. On a hilly terrain, these 45 kms take around one and a half day to cover by foot.
“The villagers are of the opinion that a girl child is supposed to do household chores rather than study,” adds Swati Madam, Director, Rachana. There are innumerable children like Rani in rural India who face such challenges in completing secondary education. However, today Rani has a dream; a dream for a brighter tomorrow as she is one of the occupants of the hostel facilities set-up by Rachana, for underprivileged children in Panshet, Pune District, India. As Rani talks about her plans to get a job in the city someday, one can only imagine the role being played by Rachana in shaping the lives of these underprivileged children; who otherwise might’ve been just another number in the ever long list of dropouts in India. “Had the hostel facilities not been available, my parents would’ve never agreed to send me back to school,” she adds.
Rani is among seventy under-privileged children occupying the hostel facilities run by Rachana in Panshet – a tourist destination on the outskirts of Pune, located between the Panshet dam and the Varasgaon dam. There are instances when Rachana’s staff members walked from one village to another in order to convince villagers to send their children to school, especially the girl child. “Rachana”, an NGO based in Pune, was started with an objective to mobilize communities and facilitate the process of empowerment of rural women and development of children. Among the range of activities it undertakes: is the provision of hostel facilities for underprivileged and deprived children in Panshet. Living up to its name, Rachana [“create” in Hindi], sees this as an opportunity to provide a platform to create a brighter future for the children.
[Full disclosure – I am a volunteer at Vibha,Pune Action Center.]
On Saturday, 5th May 2012, we [Vibha volunteers] along with Rachana’s field staff set out for a visit to Rachana’s hostel facilities in Panshet. The 45 kms drive up to our destination gave us a beautiful view of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, but also kept reminding us of the unequal growth being witnessed in India. Right outside one of the fastest growing city in India were villages, symbolic of the bygone era. Along the way, Swati Madam briefed us on the hardships faced by residents of this hilly terrain. A large number of youth from these areas dream of migrating to the cities like Pune in search of alternative livelihood options.
The first impression can be deceptive when it comes to the hostel premises. Surrounded by hills on all the sides and a streamlet flowing by, these cottages seem to be the ideal weekend getaway. However, a quick walk across the premises forces one to raise serious doubts regarding the habitability of the hostels. The shambolic infrastructure is suggestive of the adversities these young minds tackle in order to receive the precious gift of education; something that came easily to you and me.
The campus consists of 5 cottages, two out of which are being used as boys’ hostel and one as girls’ hostel.
Indicative of the construction techniques used 3 to 4 decades ago, the exteriors are made of stone. Wooden doors, windows and grills add to the deplorable condition of the hostels. Ample gaps in the corrugated tin sheets being used as roofs serve as a passage for insects and rain water to seep into the rooms. The same sheets are used as substitutes for wooden windows where none exist.
The interiors further add to the sorry state of affairs. Each of these cottages has three living rooms and an attached bathroom. The living rooms were stuffed with two bunk beds, which left just enough space for one person to walk through.
The wall paint has come off and the underlying walls still look soggy due to previous year’s rains. Shockingly, wooden bars are being used to support the tin roof; which give a feeling that a strong wind would be enough to bring the entire structure down.
Furthermore, the most worrisome part was the fact that the windows and the grills in the common area of Girls hostel were broken, offering little or no privacy to the occupants.
The kitchen store is another major area of concern. The broken windows, cobwebs and susceptibility to moisture decrease the shelf life of the stored food grains.
Infrastructure upgrade is an ongoing process at this facility. The team from Rachana is trying to squeeze out every penny possible to fund the process. But, like majority of NGOs serving remote rural areas, dearth of funds remains to be a major road block. Year after year, the team has been implementing a few “band-aid” solutions, which are just enough to make the hostels habitable. However, as seen in the photographs attached, the campus is in dire need of some serious investments for infrastructure upgrade. With monsoons round the corner, the urgency of carrying out the upgrade has intensified.
Mentioned below is the list of repairs to be carried out on an urgent basis:
Part A: Hostel Repairs
Funds will be utilized for repairing or replacing [whichever applicable] the doors and the windows across all the cottages. Other urgent infrastructure related costs are included as well.
Total Cost – INR 2,72,900/-
Part B: Compound Wall/ Fencing
Funds will be utilized for building a compound wall around the hostel premises. In absence of one, there is an ever-present danger of stray animals.
Total Cost – INR 2,06,130/-
Official Cost Estimate – [In Marathi]
Part C: Shade
Funds will be utilized for building a common assembling cum dining place in between the first and the second cottages.
Total Cost – INR 2,45,720/-
Official Cost Estimate – [In Marathi]
I’d like to take this opportunity to request you to make a generous donation for this noble cause. All the funds so raised, will be directed for the aforementioned repair works at the hostel facilities in Panshet. The repair and renovation work shall begin as soon as we’ve raised the target amount. Remember, your donation will provide a safer accommodation for underprivileged kids. Please, ACT NOW!
For donors in India:
Option A – Cheques/ DD
You can mail a Cheque/Demand Draft in favor of Vibha India (payable in Bangalore, Karnataka) to:
Mr. Jeydev Rajamani [Mob. +91.9880.953.147]
Vibha India, 365, 29th Main, 10th Cross, HSR Layout – Sector 1, Bangalore 560 034
Note – The donor is requested to mention “Rachana Hostel Funding” on the back of the cheque/ DD.
Option B – National Electronic Funds Transfer [NEFT]
Make a deposit to Vibha India’s account at Axis Bank directly. You can either make a deposit at any branch of Axis Bank or initiate a transfer through the net-banking feature of your account. Vibha’s account details: Account No. 300010100082457, AXIS Bank, Marathahalli, Bangalore (IFSC Code: UTIB0000300 (for NEFT)). Once you’ve completed the transaction, please mail a copy of the deposit slip/net-banking transaction note to Vibha India at email@example.com. Feel free to contact Jeydev for any queries regarding account details.
Note – The subject line of the e-mail should be “Donation for Rachana Hostel Project”.
For donors in US:
Please click on here.
Note – Kindly mention “Donation for Rachana Hostel Project” in the comments box at the bottom of the page.
Request a Visit
Please contact Bhakti [+91.9881.231.925] if you wish to visit Rachana’s hostel. She will make the necessary arrangements.
Vibha India is a Charitable Trust, registered with Sub-Registrar, Indira Nagar, Bangalore(No.23/08-09 Page 176-183 Volume IV/16.4.2008) and is also registered under section 80G of the Income Tax Act of India.
Vibha is a 501(c) (3) organization, registered as Help Them Grow Inc in the state of New Jersey. Vibha’s tax ID is 22-3122761. Founded in 1991, today Vibha has a volunteer network of over 800 volunteers spread across 15 Action Centres in US and 6 Action Centres in India. http://www.vibha.org talks about its profile, activities and achievements.
About the Initiative
This fund raising activity is being organized by volunteers at the Vibha, Pune Action Center. We’re a group of passionate individuals [majorly IT professionals employed at Infosys, Symantec, Barclays Technology Centre India, etc.] who love taking out time to work with NGOs across Pune.
We’d love to hear from those interested in joining us and contributing to the cause. Please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about Vibha Pune Action Center. Alternatively, you can reach Sheetal V. at +91.8805.001.012 or Janardan at +91.9922.967.397.
Visit us at http://sites.vibha.org/rachana.