Old students, residents join hands to renovate school building

Old students, residents join hands to renovate school building

Old students, residents join hands to renovate school building

Musharraf Hussain, aged 32, was filled with sadness and a tinge of anger when he saw the dilapidated building of the government.

The primary school at Azad Nagar locality in Lucknow, where he had studied till fifth standard.

He had returned after 16 years but the memories of the time spent in the school with his friends were still fresh in his mind. Hussain went to the school and to his surprise he found that it only had very few students. The teachers too seldom came to the school as they did not feel like sitting there.  But that was a few months back. Today, the Harijan primary school presents a different look with a new building, a walled premises, neat and clean, thanks to the efforts by Musharraf and his team.

Musharraf said that he had studied at the school up to fifth standard. “My parents were too poor to afford an expensive public school for me and got me admitted there. The building was old and there were a few teachers then,” he told Deccan Herald. The school received financial aid from the social welfare department of the Uttar Pradesh government. A part of the grants was used for the maintenance of the building, but it was spent elsewhere, he said. 

 The quest for higher education and a job made Musharraf to leave the place. On returning to the village after a long gap, he was eager to see his school. Many thoughts were flowing in his mind as he moved towards his  old school. “I thought I would be able to meet my old teachers and may be find out about some other students from them as well,” said Musharraf.
 
But his thought flow stopped and he was numbed on seeing the condition of the building. “I was pained to see the condition of the school. The roofs had cracked and the boundary wall had all but disappeared. The gate was gone as well. There was dirt and garbage all around,” he said.

The school, which once was teaching values and education to students, had turned into a den of drug addicts and criminals.

“At night, all types of anti-socials would gather in the old building and gamble, drink liquor and take drugs,” he added. “At that very moment. I decided that I would do something. It was my school and I should not allow the situation to deteriorate further,” he recalled.

Musharraf approached the public representatives of the area as well as the social welfare department for financial assistance to re-build the school and improve its surroundings. “Though they expressed their willingness to extend all help, they remained empty promises and nothing worthwhile was received from them,” Musharraf said.

Receives threats

Worse to follow.  He and his team were told by the social welfare department to keep away from the school. “It was shocking. We were also threatened by the officials if we did anything to improve the school,” he remarked. Finally, they decided to take up the cudgels.

Musharraf said that he did not have the money needed to re-build the school and hence he decided to approach other people of the locality for help. “The other residents were happy to listen to the plans for the school. They readily agreed to lend a helping hand,” he said.

“The residents chipped in with all kinds of help... some took up the job of cleaning the surroundings while some others embarked upon tree plantation and turn the environment green,” he added.

“The boundary wall was constructed after we had enough funds,” he said, adding that gradually the building of the school was renovated and within a few days the school regained its lost glory.

“Once the building was reconstructed, the students began to return to the school. Within a short span of time, there were 50 students at the school…the teachers too started spending more time in the school as they now found it good enough,” he pointed out.

Musharraf, who has three children, said that his family members also encouraged him in his work. “My parents and wife always told me that I must do something for the school,” he remarked.

Musharraf’s friend Dilip Kumar, also a resident of the same locality, who is known in the area as an avid tree lover, planted dozens of trees in the school premises. “The Harijan Primary school now is a green school with saplings of trees almost everywhere,’’ Dilip said.

For Musharraf, it was just a way of repaying his debt.  “It was the place where I had been taught the basics of education. I am indebted to it and I could not have repaid the debt in any other manner,” he said.

For Musharraf and his friends it’s like a mission accomplished.

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