Two octogenarians saw girl students at the Byrasandra higher primary government school struggle using the dilapidated toilet and began the effort to build one for them.
So overwhelming was the response from the donors that Parmanabha Arkalgud (83) and S Venkatasubba Rao (81) turned the one-off effort into a bigger project to build functioning toilets at all government schools in their constituency.
“Our foremost concern was maintaining the toilet (at the Byrasandra school),” Arkalgud said about their first initiative. “The Rotary Inner Wheel Group saw our work and came forward to maintain the toilet.”
The two senior citizens set off with the target of collecting Rs 2.5 lakh for the toilet, but ended up with a surplus in no time. That prompted them to go for the bigger goal of toilets in all government schools in the constituency.
“It’s not just money, we also had surplus material. But we checked with the contractors to see if one more toilet at a different school could be built and learnt that we were falling short of money,” Arkalgud said.
Rao, a retired RBI general manager, and his partner in the mission Arkalgud computed that they needed just Rs 1.76 lakh to build one toilet. They still had a surplus after buying furniture for the Byrasandra school. The octogenarians are currently focused on building toilets at government schools in Sarakki and Bandepalya, where they received request for help.
While a donor had built a toilet for the boys in the Bandepalya school, the toilet for girls is in a bad shape. Teachers had asked the boys to use a nearby ground to let the girls use the one functioning toilet.
“Locals built a makeshift stairway to the girls toilet, which was used illegally at night. Now, they have covered it with grills,” Arkalgud said.
Since the doors of the classrooms and the toilets are broken, locals said the school at Sarakki is also used for illegal activities like prostitution.
“We are in talks with (Jayanagar) MLA Sowmya Reddy to call a meeting of professional associations. We want to ensure that all schools in her constituency have toilets.”