Sirsi is in Uttar Pradesh, India, some six hours drive east of New Delhi. It is a poor mid-size village, mostly Shia Muslim, mostly farmers. When I was first driven there in the company of Aliakberbhai Ratansi of NF some five years ago, I complained nonstop. It was a hard drive, very bad roads; the place, when we got there, full of mosquitos, hotter than hot, power cuts ruled supreme and the place was generally depressing. In a pretty four-acre compound, there was a run down school, a run down mosque, a medical clinic and grimy staff quarters. This was a project obviously in decline, had seen better days.
The primary concern, for CAI, was the school. Aliakberbhai, known for his ability to turn hopeless education institutions around, had inherited the school when it was at its bottommost point and could not sink lower. Student enrollments were declining dramatically; the school was in debt, teachers’ salaries unpaid, staff moral was pathetic and overall situation in ICU. What inspired CAI to act was level of poverty that prevailed in Sirsi; with intense and proper care, the situation could be turned around. An opportunity for our children’s education was paramount; letting the project die was not an option.
With a lot of hard work, especially from those on the ground at Sirsi, namely Asgharbhai Shah, financing from CAI donors and Aliakberbhai’s administrative acumen, Sirsi Bahman School is the best school in Muraghabad and I am so proud CAI has been an integral part to her revival. Here are few facts about our school:
. Enrollment increased from 400 to 1,210 within 3 years.
. 14 new classrooms constructed, clearing hallways of students.
. Complete renovation of dilapidated school building; from a dim grimy structure to beautiful, all-tiled, bright and airy classrooms.
. 24 brand new computers added to a first ever computer lab.
. Added a physics, chemistry and biology lab.
. Added a library.
. 7 brand new buses added.
. Obtained board certification from UP to prestigious CBSC with affiliation to CBSE Board. Principal Syed Abbhan awarded the best educationalist in Muraghabad, UP.
. 400 plus very poor students study almost free; these would have not attended school otherwise.
. 200 poor students study at subsidized fee rates; these would have not continued without this subsidy.
. The school now has a waiting list of students from affluent families ready to join.
. The school has positive cash flow standing.
. An oasis of opportunity for our children, to pursue a quality education and relief from cycle of poverty, especially for our girls.
These school activities opened up other humanitarian opportunities at Sirsi:
.. A brand new beautiful purpose built boys orphanage.
.. A brand new girls orphanage.
.. Economic empowerment loans for many in milk producing animal husbandry.
.. Economic empowerment loans in transportation industry.
.. A 50 home project for very poor and destitute Sadaat families with preference to widows.
Please click here to view some delightful photos from our community in Sirsi.
This Sirsi project is sure testament of how donor funds can benefit an entire community – a very proud CAI / donor undertaking.