A few years back while visiting Kumta I went back to the little shack where I had earlier seen young women making papad (writeup and pics). I was glad to see that this little cinderblock workshop was still active, and women came together to make papad and other eatables to sell in local stores. I like the light in this pic. [Read more...]
That gift which is given to a worthy person, in the right circumstance, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20
Here is the list of students awarded the 2010 Shanbhag Scholarships in Kumta, India. I thank the many donors who made valuable contributions, so needy students could gain a good education. [Read more...]
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Music: Mere Desh Ka Salaam, Shobha Gurtu.
Those who have ridden the Konkan Railway can attest, the rural countryside with emerald green fields is mesmerizing. I think of an early retirement in a village, a small house and running a school.
To share the genesis of this madness, I recorded the view. Here is a 67 second snippet, as the train crossed the Aghanashini River and approached the Kumta Train station. I recorded this from the doorway with my flip video, amidst the rain and rumbling of the train. Enjoy and tell me what you think.
During recent travels, I was visiting relatives in Honavar, Karnataka – a sleepy coastal town south of Kumta (see google map below). I had stopped by a family store to add money to my pre-paid cell phone. There, this older gentleman was weaving these delicate pink buds called jaaii-che kaLo. These buds only sprout after the monsoon rains (June – August), have a delicate fragrance and are highly sought after during the festival season in July-September. It was a simple, yet mesmerizingly beautiful weave and he agreed to let me record it on my flip video.
Based on a series of questions I ask him (on camera, in Konkani), he shows us a portion of the woven braid. All those buds will yield about 10 feet of braid and take him an hour to weave. Notice the thread, it is actually a fiber pulled from the bark of the banana tree and kept soaked in water. Very eco-friendly.
These braids will be sold in the marketplace (see Kumta marketplace) and usually end up in temples or family shrines. Women also use to decorate (and perfume) their hair. The market rate for these braids is about Rs50-Rs100/ft ($1-$2/ft), but can be significantly higher during the festival season. The beauty of the braids is in the buds; and once they bloom, the braids are considered done.
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That gift which is given, knowing it to be a duty, in a fit time and place, to a worthy person, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20
Several years ago we started these scholarships to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta. This year, more friends and family joined in helping us support 48 students (29 girls and 19 boys). We extended beyond our original charter and 40 of 48 students are from other schools in Kumta. With your support we will keep growing and eventually cover ALL needy students in Kumta!
Just received results from the recent Karnataka State Board Exams (Std X) for students at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, Karnataka. What a spectacular performance by the students! Congratulations! Our gratitude also to the teachers who do a fabulous job, every day!
Summary of Results:
74 students appeared for the X Std, Karnataka State Board Exams, 2009:
- Highest score of 96.5%
- 20/74 students scored greater than 90%
- 70/74 scored greater than 60%
- 4/74 scored between 50 and 60%
- No student in the entire class failed the X Std Board exams
Of the two Shanbhag Scholarship recipients in the graduating class, one received 90.4% and the other 69.9%. Excellent performers and we are elated to have contributed to their studies. I hope they will be equally successful in college and in life.
I don’t expect our needy scholarship recipients to be at the top of the class, but we have given them an opportunity to study alongside the best students, at the best school. And they held their own. The network effects of this alone are worthwhile. This is akin to bringing deserving students to study at Harvard. You wouldn’t expect them at the top of the class, but just being here, they gain tremendously. Exactly that!
I am still collecting funds to support scholarships for needy students at the school. If you would like to make a small contribution, please let me know.
Shanbhag School Related Posts:
- Shanbhag School, An Introduction
- Lunch at the Shanbhag School – my favorite!
- Academic Update from the Shanbhag School 2007
Hope you all had a wonderful “Makar Sankranti.” Now the Sun rises earlier each day and sets later, bringing light and warmth to all aspects of our lives. This year, I celebrated Sankranti in Mumbai with close family and overate “til-gul” and “til ladoo.” Too lazy to ask why this focus on sesame, I simply devour bags of those diminutive sesame balls held together with dark jaggery.
As we gorge ourselves, let’s turn our minds to the less fortunate amongst us and see how we can bring joy to their lives too.
This started as a desire to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta, endowed in the name of my grandfather. Each year more friends and relatives joined in, and this year, Shanbhag Scholarships were awarded to 35 students (23 girls and 12 boys). We also extended scholarships to several other schools in Kumta. We hope to continue this trend within Kumta and one day I dream of supporting ALL needy girls in Kumta!
Years back, my graduate advisor retorted at another of my audacious ideas, “there’s nothing wrong with building castles in the air, as long as you build something below to hold it up there.” With all your goodwill, we will build it! Help me make this a very long list!
Scholarships were granted purely on the basis of need and included full tuition and a daily lunch at the school.
Read more about our Scholarships:
Appended are the names of students who received scholarships. The Saraswati Vidya Kendra and the Shanbhag High School are managed by the Konkan Education Trust, Kumta, India. [Read more...]
In 2007, the Shanbhag School in Kumta (and their parent, the Konkan Education Trust), started to provide lunch for all their students. In the midst of a long day, the students had previously rushed home during their lunch hour. There are no cafeterias or restaurants near the school.
The school made a significant investment in cooking equipment and prepares a nutritious, vegetarian meal for the ~ 850 primary and secondary school students. Lunch is simply rice, sambar or daal, a lentil curry or vegetable and pickles (see actual student plate above).
During my meetings with parents of Scholarship recipients, and listening to comments at the Parents Teachers Meeting, parents absolutely love the school lunch program. Parents are relieved of the pressure to pack a lunch every morning, or have it ready for the lunch break. Parents are also surprised (and glad) their kids actually eat the variety of vegetables and lentils the school serves. The school subsidizes the lunch and charges students Rs 80 per month (~$2 per month, Rs 4 per meal or ~ 10 cents per lunch!). Students not on the meal plan can eat occasional meals and drop cash in an unmanned donation box.
Kids love the food too. Meals are taken in the company of friends (and associated peer-pressure to finish their plate). Lunch is done within 20-30 minutes, and since they still have an hour break, they get to play around, gossip, or browse the library.
Thus I showed up just before lunch time to “test the quality of the school lunch program.” I always have interesting reasons to be present wherever free lunch is served. Very delicious food and a primary reason why we included lunch as part of the scholarship package we provide needy students. Whenever you are in Kumta, you are welcome to join in for a free lunch!
See pics from the Lunch, below
The Shanbhag High School, managed by the Konkan Education Trust does not receive any governmental aid. But it follows the state determined academic syllabus and guidelines. While we attract many students who can afford fees, our family wanted to make good education particularly accessible to the poor. Thus last year we gave 16 scholarships to very needy students to attend either the Shanbhag High School, or the affiliated primary school, Saraswati Vidya Kendra. At a new site dedicated to our Scholarship activities, (Shikshan.org), you can browse the list of Scholarship Recipients for 2007-2008.
You can also read about my personal challenges in identifying needy girls: Where are all the needy girls?
We did not rest, last December (2007) during my travels to Kumta I visited most of the scholarship recipients in their homes. The visit served two purposes: (a) to meet the families and convince them of our commitment to support their child’s education ~ and in turn expect them to make education a priority; and (b) to ensure that these were indeed needy families, which I could determine from their living conditions.
They lived in simple 1 or 2 room homes, or with relatives, and it was emotionally overwhelming to experience the gratitude of these families. Below, I share with you some of the scholarship recipients in their home settings. Appropriately I have omitted their names.
We supported the boy in the center, flanked by his father and cousin sister. Being poor, the girl was enrolled in the local government run Kannada language school. She wanted to attend our English school, but being in 8th std (grade) it would have been academically disastrous for her to switch the language of instruction a year before the State Board Exams. This was an important reason why we started giving scholarships to students in primary school!