BENGALURU: “Dad, why don’t these kids have proper uniform? Why no one takes care of their hygiene? They have no shoes to wear either.” Mohan Raju M had no answer back then to these questions hurled by his 16-year-old daughter Geetha on seeing the government school children playing with sand. The father-daughter duo was passing by a village on the way back home, when the concerned and curious girl made the observations that most people brush aside as a common sight. What followed later was a tragic tale.
A few weeks after that conversation, Raju (53) lost his daughter to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, an inflammatory disease and kidney failure. She could not live long enough to get answers to her questions. But her words remained etched in her father’s memories forever. Raju, who works as a Group D employee at the Indian Air Force, decided to take the onus on himself to address the concerns raised by his daughter. And since then, he has been working relentlessly to bring about a positive change at government schools in the State.
Under the aegis of Sri Kumari Geetha Memorable Charitable Education Trust, Raju has so far adopted six government schools. The Trust members ensure all basic facilities are made available at these schools for the convenience of teachers and students. Located near Channapatna off Mysore Road, schools in Shanbhoganahalli, Karikoppa, Madegowdana Doddi, Konniganahalli and Vaddarahalli are often frequented by Raju. He provides them books, arranges talks and checks whether all the basic infrastructure is in place.
“When my innocent daughter raised the concerns regarding government school children, I thought they were not so important. But after her death, I wanted to do something for those poor children. That is the reason why I embarked on the mission of providing a facelift to government schools one and a half years ago,” says Raju, who has also participated in the Kargil war. Before adopting the schools, he visited several anganwadis and helped them in every possible manner. When rains lashed the place in April, the roof of the government school in Shanbhoganahalli started to leak at different places. “It had become impossible for the children to study there.
I tried to reach out to the local leaders for help but no one volunteered and offered support. I subsequently took it upon myself and got the leakages fixed. We also did the painting works,” he says. He further adds that several other such works have been undertaken by his Trust in these government schools. Last year, they supplied books and furniture. On occasions such as Independence Day, the Trust works with the locals to identify freedom fighters and experts to deliver lectures to the schoolchildren.
Raju, who firmly believes that government school students ought to know English besides Kannada in today’s world, has also made arrangements for weekly English classes. “We are in the process of adopting five more schools,” says Raju. Funds for the Trust’s activities are mainly raised from Air Force officials at the Air Force Technical College. Most of the officials wholeheartedly contribute between `5,000 and `10,000 as and when required for the development of infrastructure at any school. The Trust which was started in his daughter’s name also has two specially-abled persons on board. Both physically handicapped Gangadharaiah and visually impaired Raghavendra also strive towards development of the government schools.