MM Hills (Male Mahadeshwara Hills, nestled along the Karnataka/Tamil Nadu border in India. For those of you who live in India, you would have heard about this region in relation to Veerappan, the elephant killer, who roamed these forests.
It all started in 2008, when we came across a newspaper article in the Indian Express (MM Hills School Newspaper Article). Although we see such articles regd. Underpriveledged children, ill equipped schools constantly, this caught our eye as we had been to the Male Mahadeshwara temple many times, and were not aware of these schools. Contacting the education department for information about these schools was futile. But were lucky enough to get in touch with a teacher in one of the schools who was generous enough to share information about the conditions of these Govt. Schools.
This prompted us to want to do something for the schools – initially we thought we would work with the four schools mentioned in the article – those located in villages of Thulasikere, Indiganatha, Nagamale and Padasulantha. Our first contribution to the schools was notebooks – can you believe it? The Govt. Provides textbooks, but not notebooks to the children – what the hell are they supposed to write on? Gathered funds from friends and family members and took about 5,000 notebooks to be distributed to the students in the 4 schools – many parents cannot afford to buy notebooks. Books were kept in the temple premises for the teachers to collect and distribute.
The more we interacted with the teachers, the more we wanted to vist the schools – only 2 of the 4 schools mentioned above were accessible by “road” (https://youtu.be/zTJZKHBaDTM). First school we visited was Thulasikere school – standards (grades) 1-7th, 100+ students, 1 teacher. This single teacher was not only responsible for teaching 1-7th standards, but was also responsible for all administrative work, and for bringing the provisions for mid-day meal for the children from MM hills temple area, about 6-7 kms. Away.
None of us had been to these schools, and it really never occurred to us as to what to expect. But did know that we could not go to these schools in our regular vehicles, and had to rent a special jeep which would ply to these schools/villages. The jeep that was rented was not a jeep as whole, but a skeleton of a jeep – no covering, no doors, only the base body with 2 rods to hold onto your dear life with. Truly it was either the best or worst roller coaster ride I had ever ridden, and remember travelling to Thulasikere school and back thinking that it would topple over any moment. Wish I had a pic. Of that particular jeep to show you.
I suppose it is difficult for many of you to imagine such places in the world – where there is no water, electricity, road facility. But trust me, there are. Each visit to the schools is an eye opener of the conditions there, and how much more we can do. More in next,