Paderu – A mountain of knowledge

You may say he’s a dreamer!

He is a father, so he knows the importance of earning a living for his family.

He was about to leave for work when he stopped suddenly. He saw his young children scribbling on the wall of bamboos covered with cow dung and clay at the entrance.

“I can’t read English. I asked both my children what they had written.”

Explaining it to his father, Sreenu said that he wrote his name, with the word “IPS” below it, a designation for police officer. His sister wrote her name, with “M.B.B.S”, a degree for doctors, below it.

“Tears welled up in my eyes. They are so young. I sell honey. I cannot afford them the luxuries of life. We live a humble life; I can only manage to give them a three-time meal and an education in a free school nearby. But the education has paid off. They make me proud,” shares Sreenu’s father.

Belonging to a tribal family, Sreenu is first in generations to attend a school; and so is his sister. His father credits this poignant moment to Sri Sri Gyan Mandir, Sreenu’s school. “I wanted my children to study there, and the results are so evident,” he says.

Nectar of knowledge is sweeter than honey!

Sri Sri Gyan Mandir, a pre-primary school, is situated in the mountainous area of Paderu, 120 km from the port city of Vishakhapatnam. “Emphasizing on the methods of audio-visuals to teach students, the school is famous for its quality education. We imbibe the cultural knowledge too to restore the glory of tradition in these students,” says Bhagyashree Barbadikar, School Coordinator, Paderu.

Speaking of the beginning of this humble project, she says, “YLTP volunteers (a program that focuses on personal development through stress-reducing breathing techniques) Vishwanath, Surya Prakash, Satya Babu, Chari, and Ishwar Rao initiated the entire concept of having Sri Sri Gyan Mandir in Paderu.”

The villagers here, mostly laborers, farmers, or honey-sellers, have immense respect for education. They wish to educate their children, but limited monetary resources leave them hopeless.

“We interacted with the parents and told them the purpose and vision of the school. We said that this free school will be a good investment for the future of their children. They surprised us when they applied for admission with us  after considering all other schools,” shares Bhagyashree.

It received 20 admissions initially, and now the school has 50 students. “In fact, it’s the parents who have come forward to spread the word among other villagers about our school,” she says.

Though its at its nascent stage, 

It’s not just the school...

The organized the Breath-Water-Sound Program (a workshop for economically, emotionally distressed communities to empower them and relieve them of stress).

“It has transformed villages by making the people addiction- and stress-free and has made every individual, irrespective of their age, empowered with strength that is established in profound knowledge,” says Bhagyashree, adding that the youth are trained in activities like teaching and administration, thus empowering them to make a living.

Common people making a difference!

“I am a simple housewife with a family. This school gave me a purpose, even beyond the four walls of my house. Now I have many families whose vision is blossoming in Paderu’s school. The students will grow to become responsible, dynamic yet sensibly, peaceful citizens of rural India,” the school's Coordinator adds.

The volunteers have set up the school right from scratch, from designing an admission form to dividing the terms, the syllabus, etc. “I trained the team on how to take classes, as I have a background of a lecturer,” she adds.

120 kilometers away, she finds her purpose in life

The “under-construction” school looks promising, with future plans like transport for far-off villages, mid-day meals, and building toilets. “As a coordinator, I would not compromise on quality. As a team, we appeal to philanthropists to lend a hand in educating the individuals of tomorrow,” she says.

The parents too, unanimously believe that the school has built a strong foundation for their children. “This is the outcome of the inspiration of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of The Art of Living. His teachings gave us a purpose in life. Through Sudarshan Kriya, I discovered the capabilities within me,” she adds quickly.

She will continue to multitask between her home and her school, “The travel of 120 kilometers teaches me the importance of service. The joy that wells up in the eyes of the struggling parents when they see their children’s dreams coming true are priceless,” she adds.

Written by Monica Patel

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