‘The Benches Man’: On a mission for Happy Schools
Hyderabad, September 02, 2018: The poor state of education in our country especially in Government schools threatens the future of India. High fees in private schools, low enrolments in Government schools are a harsh truth, plus even those who enroll in government school dropout due to various reasons. Government Schools are plagued with various problems such as no proper classrooms, no seating arrangements, no proper lighting, and are mostly in shambles and sometimes with no basic facilities such as drinking water, toilets, etc.
Seeing such pitiable conditions, one man dared to dream a mighty dream... That no child will sit on floors. Rotarian Ravi Vadlamani founded the Save Our School (SOS) Task Force to create Happy Schools. Schools which will have proper benches… schools which will be colourful with facilities for drinking water, toilets, etc. Taking a step at a time, Ravi Vadlamani focused on school benches. Estimation was done that a total of 5 lakh school benches are required. The quest started in the year 2012 and continuous. The dedication of the man has seen about 1.2 lakh school benches worth Rs.30 crores distributed till date. Each bench can accommodate three high school students.The cost of each dual desk is Rs 2500/-.Now the target is 5 lakh benches. As part of that journey, 2802 benches were distributed in Hyderabad to 62 schools in a function to be held at G. Narayanamma Institute Technology and Science. These benches cost twin cities Rotarians Rs 1.06 crore. All the 2802 school benches benefitting 62 schools in Hyderabad and RR districts were lined up at the grounds and it was a great visual delight to watch.Such a mammoth task is not possible alone. Ravi Vadlamani says humbly that I am fortunate that I found a group of people with shared goals. SOS, a flagship project of Rotary District 3150, was launched a couple of years ago to provide the right infrastructure with all basic amenities for classroom learning, he said.SOS embarked on several social service activities, by identifying the need of the poor and economically backward and addressing the same. Over the years, Ravi Vadlamani with his Save Our Schools (SOS) Task Force and Rotary friends has impacted the lives of thousands of students. The numerous service activities have become feathers in his cap over the years, which helped the lives of close to five million people.Ravi Vadlamani dreams to achieve the target of 5 lakh benches distribution by 2020. His extraordinary zeal and dedication for providing school benches so that no student will have to sit on the ground has earned him the distinction of ‘The Benches Man’. He is fondly addressed by many as the Benches Man. Though it is a mammoth task but not an impossible task how the Benches Man see it. To execute remaining 3,80,000 dual desks we need Rs 95 to 100crore. God is there. Humanity is there. We will achieve by all means, says The Benches Man with lot of conviction. I am not alone in this endeavour. I must have initiated it. But, we have many committed Rotarians to take it to the logical end, he says.With ‘Save our Schools’ initiative Ravi Vadlamani focuses on upgrading the infrastructure of schools by providing school-desks benefitting millions of children in several years. He has taken personal interest in building more than 50 schools, donated computers in hundreds of schools, and also provided toilets in several hundreds of schools.Though Ravi did a lot of service activities through Rotary International and on his own in various fields such as Poverty alleviation, community development, health, housing, drinking water, sanitation, etc. The work related to children and education is closest to his heart. What he has achieved in the simple act of providing a bench is immeasurable.Reminiscing his early days and the onerous tasks undertaken by him, the 62-year-old Ravi Vadlamani says that everything is possible when you try with all your heart and soul. My favourite quote is by John Fitzgerald Kennedy “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”. We need to ensure that the young India reaches adulthood with the right knowledge and skills and providing basic amenities in schools is the least that we can do for them, says Dr. Ravi Vadlamani.The Benches Man, the Rotary Past District Governor and Chairman of Save Our Schools Task Force, Ravi Vadlamani can be reached on his mobile: 9848132565 for more information