´Good things come to those who wait.´ This saying has proven true in one of Rajahmundry`s suburbs. “Back in 2003 nehemia team India dreamed of opening a school”, explains Carry MacFarlane, who visited the team leaders Raja and Ebba Sekhar last September. “In June 2018 the long awaited moment finally arrived; after 15 years the dream came true.”
145 children now have the opportunity to visit this school Monday to Saturday, the school building being attached to the existing child center. Most of the children are Dalits (belonging to the casteless). The few attending children whose families belong to higher castes have one thing in common with the Dalits: their families live in poverty. Raja himself picks up many of the kids from the surrounding villages in the morning and brings them back home in the afternoon. A school bus was bought especially for this purpose, as the pick-up takes about two hours. The original idea was to start off with only two grades, but the demand was so high that the school management decided to facilitate eight grades, including kindergarten. Consequently, as soon as the school had opened it already faced the challenge of having too little space. The whole process of opening the school entailed numerous challenges. It took more than two years to tackle all the authorities´ requirements and obtain the necessary permits. Families which are able pay a small fee for the school uniforms customary in India as well as for school books. Students who cannot afford to pay for lunch receive a complementary meal.
Compared to the cities, the outskirts and villages are far behind in their standard of educational institutions. The few existing schools are insufficiently equipped and the teachers are often poorly motivated. As a result many parents from the surrounding areas are highly interested in having their kids attend this new school. Opening this school is a bold first step. Surely many areas are still in need of improvement: the buildings, school equipment and teaching methods. But this beginning was only possible thanks to the enduring efforts of the dedicated couple Sekhar, who – over all these years – have held onto their dream. Not even Ebba´s recent stroke was able to stop this grand project.
It is Raja´s dream to extend this project even further. A large playground is at the top of the children´s list. Raja dreams of running a nursery which runs according to the Montessori principles. This would be a great opportunity for kids in these poor suburbs.