An awe-inspiring institution indeed. Founded by the Maharaja of Vizianagaram in 1869, school committee headed by Dr Annie Besant from 1918, Sir P S Sivaswamy Ayyar selling his palatial bungalow on R K Salai and donating the proceeds to build the school with himself moving to a small rented house for the rest of his life and a 150-year tradition that hasn’t changed to the date – what can be more inspiring than this?
Knowing the reputation of the school, twelve months ago, we made a cold call to see if there was anything worthwhile we could contribute to it. Washrooms, we learnt, were the real requirement. We immediately thought of a Global Grant (GG) project with washrooms and computer labs thrown in. Thanks to Rtn Vasudha’s friend Rtn Shereen Ajumal, Rotary Club of Sleaford, UK was roped in as the international host and the application was prepared. A few other Fellow Clubs in RI Dist 1070 too chipped in with contributions. However, our District Rotary Foundation Chair, Rtn Sagar, while reviewing our application expressed a doubt as to whether washrooms in the second floor of the school would qualify under GG norms. We raised this query to The Rotary Foundation and, much to our dismay, learnt that it wasn’t eligible. Sleaford Club didn’t give up hope and escalated the issue to The Rotary Foundation only to receive the same answer. We now understand that new construction of washrooms other than on the ground floor are not permitted under GG norms due to liability issues that could arise on account of structural aspects.
We had to now decide between a GG project sans the washrooms or a washroom project that wouldn’t be a GG project. The latter meant that we had to find the entire funds ourselves without The Rotary Foundation’s support. But considering the real need of the school, we opted for the washrooms. Here, we must say that RC Sleaford as well as the other UK clubs unanimously decided to support our approach even though it wasn’t a GG project. We are immensely grateful to their magnanimous gesture.
Rtn Raghuram, our architect member, who had previously assisted in the drawings for the washrooms, oversaw the construction process meticulously and deputed an engineer for day-to-day supervision. Support poured in from several rotarians whose mothers or grandmothers had studied in this school. The feeling was just great to know that we had selected a beneficiary that was truly deserving and well-run.
In view of the public exams that were to start on 1st March, we had to complete the project quickly. On Feb 27th Dist Governor Babu Peram inaugurated the facility in the presence of three special guests – all of whom were connected with the school for a long time. The warm welcome given by the girls and the super tasty ‘vadai’ which we understand is a specialty from the super-clean kitchen of the school will remain etched in our memories, as will the satisfaction of an impactful project for the girl child.
For more photos of the event please click the below link