Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Uniforms distributed at Deepam WM center

All of us understand the importance of having a good environment at schools and am sure that most of you would agree that it has a direct impact on the child's motivation to go to school and eagerness to learn. A good environment not only means having good teachers, having good group of friends but also having good infrastructure at school.

We at Deepam have been teaching at community centers/ schools for morethan 2 years now and along with our efforts to improve our teaching methods we have been looking out for opportunities to improve the infrastructure at our various centers. For a start we got an opportunity to sponsor uniforms for the children at our West Mambalam center.

Deepam classes at WM happen at Sri Venkata Nivasam Primary School. The school,which has classes till 5th std, is one of the oldest schools in WM and has around 120 children . The children come from an under privileged background with the average family income of less than 50k a year. The school is a government aided school and the infrastructure is very modest. In fact two of the three classrooms in the school don't have electricity. More than electricity the kids were in need of uniforms and we volunteered to sponsor uniforms for all the kids in the school.

Fortunately we got acquainted with "Round Table"(http://www.roundtableindia.org/) who were more than willing to fund the project. The total cost of the uniforms was 20k . The teachers, parents and kids expressed their happiness and vocally thanked us for sponsoring the uniforms. The teachers also mentioned that this was the first time that all the children were wearing new
uniforms on the opening day.

Deepam would like to thank Round Table for its generous contribution and we look forward to Round Table's continued support to help improve infrastructure at other Deepam centers.

"Round Table India" is an organization of non-political and non-sectarian young men between the age group of 18 and 40. Round Table India as an organization works locally, regionally, and
internationally to help and educate underprivileged children."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kodai trek with Chennai trekkers.

The Kodai trek with Chennai trekkers was fantastic. Everything was perfect - the weather, the group, our guide, the trail, home made chocolates, the soup and the maggi with Gopal and Madhav's special ingredient ;) and finally the "haaapaa da" expression on most of us on seeing the civilization at kookal , defying the Murphy's Law.

Crazy events :-
Mohan's daredevil feat at the kookal dam.
Rajinikant's somersault off the cliff.
Ashwin and others rescuing ajinkya at the waterfalls.
Veg "Chicken" side dish
and..many more..

First day of the trek was neat barring the initial struggle for 5 km through the forest( i wouldnt complain if i knew what was in store for the next day).The excitement and the enthusiasm took us to the camp site. The camp site was a scenic place, a clear patch surrounded by hills. It was a photographers delight with the setting sun giving rise to awesome shades of colour. The icing on the cake was us spotting the bison and later the bison skull near the campsite.We beat the cold in the night by treating us to nice and hot soup and maggi noodles.

The second day started out on a fantastic note. As usual everybody was enthusiastic not knowing what was to come later in the day. I was informed that the trail that we were to trek was not the one that CTC usually takes. We just knew that we had to climb down an entire hill and go up another one to reach kookkal village were our bus to kodai was waiting.
We literally climbed climbed down 500 ft in 1.5 hrs.. The experience was very good. It was windy and the trail was just 2 feet wide and there were places where we had to slide down for 2-3 m.Walking silently through the tall grass in the middle of the forest was like being a part of an infiltration camp.We walked all morning for nearly 4 hrs until we reached a waterfall.All the fatigue was gone after a nice dip in the icy cold water and with few bites of tepla (gujrati rotis).

The guide mentioned that the path was another 3-4 hr trek up from there to kookal which however seemed never ending . We( me and noops ) were among the last set people climbing up . Facts:- This was our first trek.Backpacks were heavy and we dint have the stamina to catch up with other people. At one point of time i was sure that i wouldnt complete the trek. I was even thinking of dumping my backpack and sleeping bag and getting help from one of the estates on the way. Just then chandru bhai and wife( cant remember the name) opened their backpack. out came the ladoos, Bhujia and chips. The timing was perfect, the ladoo (full with ghee and dry fruits) served as an energizer.However thinking about the distance we had to cover was dissuading us from proceeding further.
The trail was a man made path through the hill which was used by the villagers to commute to the estates. It reminded me the path through the mountains that frodo and sam take enter mordor. I even joked about it to other trekkers that the trek up was "Lord of the sufferings"- PJ.. After hours of climbing up we reached kookal by 6 pm. The constant encouragement by
Gopal and Mohan was really helpful. If not for them i am pretty sure that we would have given up half way or would have taken another 3-4 hrs to complete.

The trek ended with a " happada!!" at kookal with junta having a nice time sharing their experience over a nice cup of tea. If questioned about my experience i would definitely say thaty that my first trek was memorable with unique experiences, picturesque mountains and grasslands and above all a great set of people to trek with. It was an fantastic group with people having great tolerance and excellent temperament.I sure to retain vivid memories of this trek for a long long time.