Built on government-owned land in a rural suburb of Bangalore, India is the Government Higher Primary School, which, until this year, made the best of operating without electricity or running water. The dilapidated two-story flat is no bigger than the interior of a local Starbucks.
“It’s a government school, so they get very little funding,” says Vivek Vinayak, a junior currently attending St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif. “It’s one small building with hundreds of kids and two rooms, so the kids are usually taught outside. Earlier, when it would start raining, they’d either go into the small building or teach under a tarp roof which usually fell and drenched the kids.” While visiting his grandparents last year, who live across the street from the school, the 16-year-old saw a make-shift rooftop crumble under the weight of heavy rainfall.
“I saw a tarp roof collapse when the students were underneath it, so I wanted to help them out,” Vinayak said. “I readjusted their tarp and then I talked to the principal and started the fundraiser.” With the help of family, friends and a few of his teachers at St. Francis, Vinayak established the GHP School Fund in the summer of 2009 and successfully raised more than 1,000 dollars. His efforts have provided the school, and its over 120 students, with about six months worth of electricity and a desperately needed roof. He also intends on supplying its students with uniforms and new textbooks.
Since founding the GHP School Fund, Vinayak has created a local buzz around his hard work. In April of this year a local newspaper published an article highlighting his achievements. A few months later, the city of Mountain View honored Vinayak with a certificate of appreciation presented by both the Mayor and council representatives.
At just 16 years old, Vinayak is no stranger to community service. Inspired by his mother, who he admires for having also taken an active role in her community as a youth tutoring and mentoring other kids, he began working with special-needs kids as a freshman in high school. The progress he has made with the fundraiser over the course of the last year is just an extension of his service, but on a much larger scale.
Vinayak’s grandparents send him photos from time to time in order to keep him updated on the progress every monetary contribution has gone toward, and he is hopeful the Government Higher Primary School will someday be self-sufficient.
And while most kids his age are caught up in the whirlwind of teenage life, he assumes a more introspective approach on things, focusing on college and an education in computer science. “It’s pretty sad,” Vinayak admits. “We have so much here [in the United States] and they can live without electricity or running water. It just shows how much we have and they didn’t.”
For more information on the GHP School Fund visit http://tinyurl.com/ghp-school.
Angelo Scrofani was a contributing writer for the arts section of the Metro newspaper.