Learning beyond classrooms: Udupi woman grooms 500 kids

Learning beyond classrooms: Udupi woman grooms 500 kids

Roopa Ballal educates children from underprivileged backgrounds and looks after their nutrition and well-being

Roopa teaches the kids reading, writing and serves them healthy food. The children learn Karate, while, a choreographer conducts dance classes. Credit: Roopa Ballal

Children burst into mirth and glee from a house located behind the Udupi’s famed Lord Krishna temple. 

Children of migrant labourers from the slum at Beedinagudde, located three km from the house, are here to shape their future. They forget their miseries and nurture their dreams during the time they spend at this house.

“My house has been their home and I have been their mother since last 15 years,” says home maker and Yoga expert Roopa Ballal. In a classroom constructed by her husband Nagaraj Ballal on the terrace, she teaches Kannada and English to these children.

She teaches them reading, writing and serves them healthy food every day. The children learn Karate, while, a choreographer conducts dance classes. She teaches them ettiquette and communication skills. She explains the importance of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness. “Besides educating them, I pay attention to their health, nutrition and well-being,” she says.

Beyond the four walls

Learning for these children goes beyond the four walls. These children have taken part in eight marathons held in Manipal. Roopa takes them on picnics and excursions and visits on to exhibitions and workshops.

Udupi is home to a huge population of migrant labourers from Ballari, Bagalkot, Kalaburagi, Hubballi, Vijayapura, among others. Long hours of work and paltry wages prevent migrants from focusing on the well-being of their children. Very few send their children to government schools, while most of them engage them in begging.

Roopa told DH that often neglected children end up becoming substance abusers. Roopa decided to do her bit towards their betterment by dedicating her time. A native of Bagalkot, she is fond of children. “I used to visit the slums to teach them for a few hours. Later, my children, who are settled in the USA, encouraged me to guide these children in a systematic manner,” she explains.

Pursuing college education

Nearly 500 children have been groomed by Roopa. Over 25 children are pursuing their college education in Karnataka. Among them, Manjunath went on to become an engineer and is now employed in her husband’s firm.

According to Manjunath, Roopa is responsible for all positive changes in his life. “If not for her, it would not have been impossible for me to be at this place, in my life. I salute this amazing lady, who has given me a new life,” he adds.

Nagaraj Ballal, a contractor, and also a trustee for many educational institutions, says, “It is my duty to support her in all her noble endeavours.”

Roopa regrets that she could not do much for these children during the pandemic but hopes that she will continue to bring hope to these underprivileged children.