January 30, 2022 is a red-letter day for the 120 students and teachers of Swa Veer Rajguru Madhyamik Vidyalaya at Sakadbav, a tribal hamlet 35km from Shahapur taluk in theThane district of Maharashtra. “School headmaster Prakash Kor shed tears of joy and thanked us profusely as we had rebuilt the school at a cost of ₹24 lakh, following Cyclone Tauktae that wrecked the classrooms on June 3, 2021,” says Sunil Soman, president, RC Thane North, RID 3142. IPDG Dr Sandeep Kadam inaugurated the renovated school with upgraded sanitation and classroom facilities in the presence of PDG Dr Mohan Chadavarkar and members of RCs Thane North and Shahapur.
The cyclone had ripped off the entire roof and damaged the walls so badly that the teachers had to hold classes under the trees for the boys and girls who walked from the tribal hamlets around 5–6km radius to the only secondary school (Class 8–10) in this region. “Located on a hilly area, the school was totally destroyed. One of the teachers, Kavita Padwal, who is helping us in a survey for an upcoming GG project ($90,000) of desilting Lenad lake at Shahapur, briefed us about the devastation to the school,” he recalls.
Following the teacher’s SOS, a six-member Rotary team led by Soman visited the school. Headmaster Kor was in extreme desperation and pleaded with the visiting Rotarians to restore the school to normalcy. After returning, the Rotarians formulated a proposal at a board meet to rebuild the school with funds from the club’s North Star Rotary Trust. “Initially we set aside ₹7 lakh from the trust’s corpus, and then leveraged the district grants to expand our Happy School project with a holistic approach.” A rollover district grant of ₹17 lakh was sanctioned in November and tenders for work orders were invited, he explains.
Soon an exclusive toilet block for girls (₹3 lakh) came up; a dilapidated toilet block (₹1 lakh) for boys was renovated; an e-learning kit with hardware, software (₹75,000), lab equipment (₹1.5 lakh), a borewell linked to an overhead tank (₹1.25 lakh), were all put up. A solar panel (₹2 lakh) for captive power, was also added, transforming the school’s infrastructure to another level. “We are installing an RWH pit (₹1 lakh) near the borewell and a library will be set up by March-end. Our members sponsored uniforms, 12 fans for classrooms, and ₹1 lakh-worth furniture that includes cupboards, blackboards, faculty tables and 25 chairs for the e-learning centre,” he added.
Over the last 20 years, nobody has helped this school and Rotary’s intervention has changed memories of a dismal past into an era of new hope for the students and teachers.
The chirpy and smiling Diksha Rajaram Chaudhary (Class 10) says, “I thank Rotary from the bottom of my heart for setting up these facilities which will motivate us to study well.” Pranali Gaikwad (Class 9) turns emotional while expressing her “lifelong gratitude to Rotarians for making my school so beautiful and cosy.”
Headmaster Kor is even happier than the students.