A commitment to community: Meet Avinash who provides essential items for schoolkids from deprived backgrounds

He has single-handedly run campaigns to provide them with essential items like books, conduct medical camps and ensure water supply and other facilities at schools.
Phatak, who works with the sewage department in Mumbai, said that he got inspiration from his parents to take up social work. 
Phatak, who works with the sewage department in Mumbai, said that he got inspiration from his parents to take up social work. 

MAHARASHTRA: Avinash  Phatak, an assistant engineer with the Brihan Mumbai Corporation, has found his calling in helping better the educational journey for government school students from poor households. He has single-handedly run campaigns to provide them with essential items like books, conduct medical camps and ensure water supply and other facilities at schools. Phatak, who works with the sewage department in Mumbai, said that he got inspiration from his parents to take up social work. 

At the beginning of his journey, Phatak said, he would shuttle between Mumbai and places like Divali, Pali, Haldai in Raigad district in the Konkan region during weekends and visit government schools there. Here, he would go around collecting details of what essentials the schools were in need of. 

“In my visit, we noticed that many students are suffering from some diseases and are physically weak. Therefore, we first decided to conduct medical camps in these schools. We requested our known doctors to spend one day with school students as a way of giving back to society,” he said.

Through these medical camps, Phatak said, they collected health data of students and were able to extend medical assistance. “We also consulted the parents of the students and made them aware of the kind of health issues that their wards are suffering from. If students are physically fit, then they can devote more time to school and sports activities. We told students that health is like wealth,” Phatak said.

His visits gave him better insight as he found out that most children are good at studies and they want to continue their education. But they do not have enough money to buy books and other items.

“These school children belong to poor households and often live a hand-to-mouth life. Some of their parents are labourers and marginal farmers. They cannot afford to send their children to schools. We do not want to see such bright children getting deprived of education. Education is the only thing that can change their financial and social conditions.

If they are denied education, again they will be forced to engage in nearby factories or work with their parents on their farms. We pursued these parents to send their children to school and took the responsibility for these children’s school expenses,” Phatak said. He said in some of the schools, the students do not get the clean water for drinking. 

“Along with food, clean water for drinking is important and it should be available during the school time. We not only donated the water tanks but water filters as well. Clean water can resolve many health-related issues. The majority of the source of diseases is unclean water. We have to change it by providing clean and pure water,” he said.   

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