It’s with great pride that Brigadier Hari Har Tripathy, President of RC Bhubaneswar Metro, that has just spruced up a Government Bapujee Nodal U P School near the Sainik School in the Odisha capital, describes the completion of this project “in just three and a half days” a fauji project.
To my puzzled look he says, “In Bhubaneswar our club is known as the fauji or army club. Our DG Brigadier Narayan Nayak, has managed to convince many retired army officers to join the club, of which he is also a member!” Sunanda Nayak, the DG’s spouse, nods and says, “Their club with 45 members includes two Generals, nine Brigadiers, a few colonels, a former Ambassador, two retired DGs of Police and some IGs; here it is famous as the Army club!”
Brigadier Tripathy, who displays amazing energy in running across the large campus of the sprawling school where a WinS project — two spanking new bio toilets, some other renovated toilets and 16 handwashing stations decorated with rows of marigold flowers — is being inaugurated by RI Director Manoj Desai.
It is a Sunday afternoon on a sweltering summer day, but scores of children — both boys and girls — from this government secondary school have turned up, bright and cheerful in their uniforms, for this exciting event at their school. As Desai inaugurates the project and walks across to the handwashing station, the children rush to join him to wash their hands in the right way taught to them.
Most of them hail from poor families and what the provision of clean toilets with running water means to them can be seen on their happy faces and sparkling eyes.
Says Tripathy, “We have laid huge pipelines and an overhead tank to ensure there is running water in the toilets. You can say we have done a 360 degree intervention in the school for all the components of WinS. Apart from the toilets, group handwash stations and safe drinking water facilities, we have also given some furniture to this school, a fresh coat of paint and done teacher’s training. Very soon this will become a Happy School when all the necessary components are fulfilled.”
On the urgency of completing the project within four days District 3262 DG Nayak says, “My goal is to complete 222 schools this year. We have got five Global Grants for the schools, but there was some delay in getting the money, which came in barely a week back, so we had to work day and night to complete this school.” He hopes to complete all the schools by May end or mid-June across Odisha.
Happy School criteria
RID Desai urges the Rotarians to ensure that all the eight criteria of a Happy School are met, and explains these include a fresh coat of paint, furniture such as desks/benches, library, a room for teachers, playground, filtered, safe drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls, group handwashing stations with both the teachers and children being taught the correct technique of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, and good classrooms.
“Only when all these criteria are met, can you label it a happy school,” he says, adding, “Trustee Sushil Gupta has seen the WinS projects you are implementing in D 3262 and he is very happy with the quality of the work being done and the way the project is implemented.”
On the choice of this school, Brigadier Tripathy says that “as RC Bhubaneswar Metro wanted to implement a WinS project in the city, I found this school when I did a survey last May. It was built in 1936, and it was in a very poor state with hardly any facilities. As the money came late, we had to complete the work on a war footing, so I brought in the fauji style of working. working around the clock, day and night. And the children were so excited that they would come even in the nights to help us clean up the place as the work was being done.”
The happiness he talks about is palpable; as the group of Rotarians led by Desai walks in, schoolgirls armed with little buckets of flower petals are ready to line their path with flowers.
After a few minutes, an overwhelmed Desai takes over one such bucket and showers the petals on the schoolchildren, who giggle happily.
Neither the girls nor the boys are shy to talk about their future dreams. While Aarati wants to become a computer engineer, and some other girls talk about being teachers, Pooja jumps in with a very firm: “I want to be a doctor”. Their fathers are daily wage earners, petty shop owners or farm labourers. Sahu, the son of a carpenter, wants to be a pilot and Ayush a computer expert!
It is good to leave the flower bedecked school thinking that their future dreams could indeed turn into reality, as the groundwork has been laid by two proud faujis — Brigadier Nayak and Tripathy.
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat