MYSURU: NO electricity, no money for books, studying after a hard day’s work… Dr M P Varsha has come a long way from studying under the light of a mortuary to starting an NGO and spreading light in the li ves of children and women.
A m anaging trustee of the non-profit Centre for Rural Education, Development and Innovation of Technologies of India (Credit-i), Varsha has been striving hard to bring a smile on the faces of thousands of the poor . Having seen only adverse situations quite early in his life, those experiences have made Varsha the person he is today.
He decided to educate himself to help the less fortunate like him. Born into a poor upper caste family, he was not eligible for scholarship. He and his mother lived in a small shed. His father , a construction labourer, was addicted to alcohol and neglected the family. While his mother worked as a domestic help, Varsha worked as a live-in odd jobs boy in a nearby house. When everyone slept in the night, he would study under the blinking single light in the verandah.
College education was a bigger challenge for him. He stayed in the Manasagangotri hostel. Every day, he would walk 6km from the hostel to reach a mortuary located in PKTB Sanat orium on KRS Road. He chose the mortuary because the light there would be on throughout the night. Since the caretaker would leave by 6.30pm, there was no one to object to his coming and going. This enabled him to study undisturbed from 7 pm to 4 am. He would rush back to his hostel before sunrise. This way he completed his graduation and PG.
After experiencing poverty and the hardships he faced to get educated, he wanted to help those who were passionate about education but didn’t have the means to go to school. So he did post-graduation in social work. Armed with this degree and his goal of lending a helping hand to the poor, he started Credit-i in 2007, with two like-minded friends —Dr MR Manjunath and KG Shylaja-- who are respectively the treasurer and president of the NGO. Today, Varsha is helping hundreds of poor children to complete their education by providing financial assistance and is also instrumental in starting self-help groups to make women self-reliant.
The objective of the NGO is to help children complete basic education. It provides scholarships ranging from`600 to `1,000 to children for their education, and women to earn their livelihood. In the last ten years, Credit-i has set up about 600 self-help groups in Mysuru district. S Megha, a beneficiary, gets `6,000 per annum from the NGO. She is studying B.Sc First Year and is a resident of Bengaluru. She says, “This money helps me to purchase textbooks, notebooks and other study material. My mother is a domestic help. After the death of my father, life became tough.
My relatives are paying my college fees.” The NGO has adopted Malara, a village near HD Kote, to develop it as a model village (Adarsha Gram). The population of the village is 1,000 and the people belong to Scheduled Caste. The NGO has recruited two extra teachers to work in two government schools. It has distributed solar lights to the villagers, where to this day there is no power. It has recently started two programmes — Siri Spandana and Parivarthana. While the former is for senior citizens to come together and spend some time, the latter provides job opportunities for many. This apart, programmes like Manasa Vikasa, Yuva Chethana and Unnathi have been launched to reach out to youth and further enhance their capacities to contribute to the society.