The entire small school burned down. To the ground. By the time we saw the school the next morning, the children had cleared all remnants of the fire away and there was literally nothing left except the small cement wall that was holding the tent in place.
About a year ago while my mother was visiting and we were on our way to an art gallery, my driver pointed across the road and said, “That is a school.” My mother and I didn’t believe it. It was a small tent with a blue tarp on top. We see these types of structures all over the city and they usually house a family. Unfortunately, I have become desensitized by these and now sometimes barely even notice them on my journeys around town. On our way home from the gallery, I asked the driver to stop at the school. And it was a school with about 70 small children sitting cross legged knee to knee on the dirt floor, studying their lessons. While another 70 children had already been to school that morning. Since that day we have bought the children uniforms, backpacks, shoes, chalk writing tablets, tiffin boxes and notebooks. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, the Mini Mangoes held a lemonade stand and raised money for the school. My mom even paid to have a desk made for the amazingly kind teacher, which she hadn’t had until then. I was going once a week and reading English language books to them or counting or reciting the ABCs. These children live in tents with their parents who work as day laborers in the posh areas of the city, putting up buildings and high rises. I love these children and their excitement, feelings of pride and passion for their school. Their parents pay 20 Rupees ( about 36 cents) a month to send them there– both boys AND girls. That is a big deal. That these parents would part with what little money they have, to educate their children, girls included.
And now the school is gone. Two nights ago it burned down. The teacher went to the police station but there is nothing they can do, as it was built on government land, without permission. No one knows what happened. Rumors are that a drunk man threw his cigarette carelessly at the school and that caused the blaze or that some people were jealous of the teacher and all the good she was doing and they deliberately set it on fire. But no one knows for sure. And to be honest, not many people actually care.
But the teacher plans to rebuild. By next week. The children, she told my driver, were so upset and crying over the loss of their school, that they begged to have their lessons outside in a company’s garden adjacent to the school.
So we are going to start again. Rebuild the tent school. Buy them their school supplies that were destroyed and help these children get the education they so desperately want and deserve.
These sweet children need a new school and even $5 or £5 or 300 rupees can really help us buy them what they need. Mr. Mango will be traveling through London and Boston next month on business. If you are interested in making a donation, please message me and I can tell you where to send it locally. If you live in Hyderabad and have notebooks or pencils sitting around not being used, please message me and we will collect them from you.
My heart broke when I saw the empty space where a loving, thriving school had been. We are committed to doing what we can to rebuild this lifeline for these children.
Below are pictures of the children and the school and then a picture of what is left. Nothing.