Friday, December 22, 2017

Visit by Dr Kaushik Sridhar from Australia

18th Dec 2017

Dr Kaushik Sridhar along with his wife and parents visited us all the way from Australia, to bring a gift for Nitisha, the child he is sponsoring, and for her classmates!

It was wonderful having Kaushik and his family at school!

Our loving thanks to him and family to come over to school in between their hectic schedule! :-)

Here is Dr Kaushik Sridhar's account of his visit:

“As one person I cannot change the world, But I can change the world of one person”
I recently went on a six-week holiday to visit India, Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritius. When you think of my holiday, you might think of beaches, pyramids, and jetlag! I did all of the above during the six weeks but there was one highlight that became a significant milestone in my personal life and one which made me reflect on the past, present and future of the ‘state of affairs’ in this world. This highlight was a visit to the Gurukulam School in Chennai.
Gurukulam is a free school for the under-privileged children located in Kovalam, Chennai. The foundation of the school is based on the principle that education is and always will be very important in building a strong foundation in one's life. My initial interest in the school was sparked when I learnt KPMG India’s involvement with them and the social impact created in the community by the school’s founder, Captain Nandakumar. While I had been communicating with the school since March and started sponsoring one of the students, Nitisha, from September, I (really) wanted to visit the school, see a class in action, and most importantly see Nitisha, whose education I had decided to sponsor over the next 12 years.
The school itself seemed like a sanctuary for anyone wanting to get away from hustle bustle of city life but its more serious role of providing education for the underprivileged became apparent when we arrived. It provides resources where children have much-needed opportunities to play, read and learn. This includes a large playground, computer lab, vocational education facility, classrooms etc. KPMG India facilitated the development of the school’s computer lab where children are encouraged to take a course in basic computer literacy. Each student is equipped with a uniform and bookbag, provided by the Gurukulam trustees and sponsors. Regardless of the poverty they encountered at home, every young student was clad in a grey and white uniform. Despite the disadvantaged status, I noticed the Gurukulam students thrive when given the opportunity. The bright (and adorable) students share an enthusiasm for learning and a competitive spirit that shined through the classrooms when I arrived.
After a tour of the school’s facilities we visited the Lower Kindergarten class which is where Nitisha is currently studying. The LKG children had all settled down in the classroom sitting in organised rows and were ready for their visitors (my parents, wife and I)! As we entered the classroom all the tiny tots yelled “Good Morning”. We were overwhelmed with their affection and decided to grow their (already infectious) smiles; we went around the classroom and gave each child a gift we brought from Australia! I had also spotted Nitisha sitting in a corner and was overcome with joy and excitement. We spent about 30 minutes with the children and I was able to absorb their happiness, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and play. Some of the children showcased their talents and sang some songs in both English and Tamil; I was amazed with their confidence levels at such a young age. While Nitisha didn’t speak much (compared to her peers), her piercing eyes and keen/observant nature left me with a positive impression of her future. On a personal level, it was an honour for me to spend 30 minutes with the future of our eclectic country.
For most Indian slum families, educating their children is the last thing on their minds. Children in poverty make up thirty-nine percent of the population, and most of these children do not receive a good education because their parents cannot afford to send them to anything but a public school. As slum children grow up, parental pressure to leave school and start work increases, and most young people leave school by the age of 16. Among slum residents, the most common belief about higher education – or even completing school -is that it’s a waste of time and money. This is where Gurukulam comes in!
Gurukulam gets the most disadvantaged children into the school, and the Gurukulam employees engage with the children’s parents on why education is worthwhile. The work done by the people of the school reminds me of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
My visit to Gurukulam has made me optimistic about India’s future. India is a complex country with a variety of cultures and traditions. To lead in tomorrow’s world, it needs something or someone to help it achieve its vast potential – a good education is that something and Capt Nandakumar/Gurkulam is that someone. Nandakumar’s work mirrors the saying: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
Keep up the great work!
         - Dr Kaushik Sridhar

1 comment:

  1. It's so nice to read that you resonate the feelings of those already on board on this long haul:-)

    Reassuring that there are like minded people who believe that education changes lives of not only one individual but families and those around us.

    Collectively we can bring a change.