All the way from San Jose, a gift of education for 200 tribal children
NRI spends Rs 1.5 lakh on schooling of kids in hamlet, sends them lunch boxes, stationery and even takes them on a joy-ride in planes
Dabhoi (Vadodara), May 23: DABHOI taluka is 45 kms away from Vadodara and some million miles away from San Jose in the United States. But Gordhan Patel, a non-resident Gujarat has shown how easy it is to breach this distancel with a simple gesture: he supports the education of 200 tribal children in the remote Kalianara and Dangiwada villages of Dabhoi.
These are children who can barely manage three square meals a day. It’s a reality Gordhan Patel is all too familiar with: he was born and brought up in Kalianara before he eventually emigrated. But for the last three years, he has been sponsoring the education of the children, sending them uniforms, school bags, lunch boxes, and even stationery from the US.
Gordhan Patel’s Man Friday in Dhaboi is his childhood friend, 63-year-old Naginbhai Patel, the custodian of the Rs 1.5 lakh his friend sends annually for the children. ‘‘He is well aware of how the dreams of poor children remain unfulfilled due to extreme poverty. He wants these children to make it big some day,’’ says Naginbhai.
‘‘I am now in my fifth standard and I want to finish schooling and go to a bigger city for further studies. With Girdhan kaka’s blessings, I will touch heights one day,’’ said Bhavana Parmar, a ten year-old girl.
Gordhan Patel’s most recent gift to 14 of the 200 children was an all-expenses paid flight from Vadodara to Ahmedabad, which cost him around Rs 10,000. The children, accompanied by Naginbhai, his wife and the school teacher, were taken by road to Ahmedabad, where they were taken around the city and then flown back.
‘‘For us, even a glimpse of the airport was too much to imagine,’’ beams 12-year-old Mahesh Baria. ‘‘We would look up at the sky everytime we heard the sound of a plane, never realising that one day we would be in it.’’
The children wait for Gordhankaka to visit them every two years. ‘‘It feels great to meet kaka. We feel good that we will fulfill his dream someday by becoming successful, maybe like him,’’ says 10-year-old Kamlesh Baraiya.
Though Kalianara village has a primary school, it’s only upto Standard VII. Thereafter, the children will have to travel to a higher secondary school in Dabhoi eight kms away. But Naginbhai already has a solution at hand. ‘‘I discussed it with Gordhan. We will purchase cycles for the children who will then be able to go to Dabhoi for further education,’’ he says.