For Round Table India “Freedom through Education” is their lofty goal.
Illiteracy brings with it poverty, lack of opportunity, backwardness and ultimately misery.
India is still at the cross roads where on the one hand you have the educated elite who can afford to spend lakhs on their 2 years’ toddlers ‘Montessori school’ and on the other hand are the lower classes who can hardly manage to feed their children, let alone educate them. Where, often the only incentive to send a child to school is the assurance that she will get to eat one full meal at least through the day. (As the mid day meal provided by the school).
This is the gap that the Round Table India tries to bridge with its noble activity of building proper schools for those who receive grants only for teachers wages and the school structures are ramshackle, leaking sheds and other temporary structures not fit to be called ‘schools’. Round Tablers identify such needy schools where many underprivileged children struggle to get an education, and build proper buildings with as many facilities as possible for them.
They are helped in this venture by RT Netherlands and PNG’s ‘Shiksha’ project as also Coca Cola company.
The Netherlands Round Table involves many schools and colleges in this endeavour of funding schools in India.
One such school is Nyenrode New Business School, Amsterdam. The schools, in turn expect their students to participate equally in raising money by forming groups and ‘earning’ money themselves which they can give in charity. The students’ contribution is then matched by RT. Each group is expected to contribute at least Euro 6000 with each student member contributing Euro 1500/.
These students also come to India on a study tour to physically see and meet the students in their school environs so that they feel satisfied that their money is being utilized for a good cause. Meeting the beneficiaries is a moment of great satisfaction, express the students who are in Nagpur right now on such a tour.
They are from the NYENRODE New Business School in Amsterdam. They arrived this morning in Nagpur and immediately from the airport were taken to two schools built by RTI, Nagpur branches.
The first school was the Jeevan Shikshan Vidyalaya in Untkhana and the second the Utkarsha Vidyalaya, Khapri.
Jeevan Shiskshan school’s building has been built by Round Table Nagpur 83. As Sharad Agrawal and Rahul Agrawala informed NT, this is the sixth school in Nagpur built by their club.
The Utkarsha Vidyalaya has been built by Nagpur Arthur’s Round Table 180 which was represented today by Alkesh Saraf and Saurabh Singhania.
The third Round Table in Nagpur is comparatively new and has just identified the school it will help. This is RT Nagpur Spirits 258.
NT met with the students from Netherlands and the Round Tablers just as they had finished the school visits and were in Gondwana club to have their lunch.
Some of the reactions we got from them were –
” It is gratifying to see the children who have actually benefited from our actions. It makes them feel humble – most of these children from Netherlands have never seen deprivation and want, they did not know what it was to not have enough to survive… traveling abroad and meeting these underprivileged kids is therefore an eye opener. It teaches them Responsibility and gives the joy of participation.” said Jessica Leigraff, the Lecturer who was accompanying them.
Student Mitchel said Nagpur seemed a very pleasant and scenic city. Rather than Mumbai, Nagpur was the India, they looked forward to seeing. It represented the true India to them!
We asked them what they had done to contribute; how they had earned their share of the charity.
We got some really interesting answers.
One group, of which Mitchel himself was a part raised the money by auctioning their services. Anyone wanted any help with anything, any service done – bid!
The other group imported wine from Argentina and sold it to their country people. Good wine at less cost than French wine!
The third group sold Christmas trees; with the festival season drawing near they are offering Christmas trees on internet which will be delivered just before Christmas.
We asked them what they wanted to do when they finished their education; since they are all in Business Management.
They all wanted to invest in their own start ups but with a model of their own for business growth. They emphatically said they do not believe in the American model which has little incites into problems of common people. Unlike USA, where medical treatment costs a bomb and not everyone is adequately covered by insurance, in their country they have free medical treatment for everybody.
The Round Table members in Nagpur are hosting these students at their homes so they get a real taste of Indian hospitality.
Finally as the RTI motto says –
There are things we must do,there are things we can do and there are things we should do.And who best to do this than young, motivated people?
That is the mission that Round Table India which is a strictly non-religious, non-political club continues to do to this day.
By Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)