Published: 07th December 2017
This Bengaluru-based NGO is planning a military training facility for school kids in Andhra Pradesh
Joining the Dots has brought libraries and labs to schools in Andhra Pradesh's Palamaner taluk
How Joining The Dots (JTD), the NGO that was registered in 2015, decided that a military training facility is a must-have in the taluk of Palamaner, Andhra Pradesh is an interesting story that started off as an experiment. The members of the foundation decided to buy a length of rope and tie it to a 27-foot tree in one of the schools. At first, they found that 17 students were able to climb the rope with ease, out of which six were girls. This convinced them that such a facility would be of immense benefit to the children of the village.
“You can join the military at 18 and leave at 30, post which the country takes care of you,” said Dhananjay Ramakrishnappa, stating the benefits of the career option. What could be more beneficial to a student from the rural areas, they figured. So, the NGO set a deadline of January 28, 2018, to set up the facility and dedicate it to the school.
The students we have helped are open enough to crack jokes about us and disagree if need be. They do not feel like they owe us. This might not be a metric achievement, but it is an achievement in its own way
One of the many things that 36-year-old Ramakrishnappa told us about the facility that his Bengaluru-based foundation is setting up was that, “just like the name of the NGO, everything has been connecting the right way.” And to prove their point, he talks of meeting Mohan Babu, a retired army officer-turned-passionate teacher. “Now, he makes sure that the vendor keeps his time,” he quipped. The training facility will have infrastructure for vertical rope climbing, crawling through a tube and more to help students train for the military, the funds for which they plan to gather through a marathon from Bengaluru to Palamaner, which will be organised early January 2018.
Headcount: There are about 500 villages in the Palamaner taluk whose population is about two lakh. The taluk has four computer labs and four libraries set up by JTD
Apart from this, the foundation has done a lot for the Palamaner taluk in particular because of the bandi leni headmaster (the headmaster without a vehicle), Uma Maheshwar Reddy. Ramakrishnappa and the other like-minded founders have been restlessly searching for ways to give back to the society for a long time. Especially Ramakrishnappa, whose humble beginnings led him to believe that excess earned should be given back to society, the purpose for which he moved back from the US this August (although he’s been going back and forth for four years). They have tried many initiatives in the past — ranging from trying to solve the problem of malnutrition in Raichur to setting up a computer lab in Malur, a town about 45 km from Bengaluru.
But Ramakrishnappa realised that after three years of failures, one needs more than just resources to make a difference. “I realised we need credibility at the ground level to operate, otherwise why would a community trust random people who want to offer resources,” he said, critically. That’s when they needed the bandi leni headmaster, who earned his nickname because he couldn’t even afford to buy a vehicle as he would donate most of his income towards the welfare of the students of Palamaner. The headmaster, with 20 years of experience in the field of education, rendered his vision and offered his mentorship to Ramakrishnappa and the rest is history.
Pet project: One of the projects JTD is proud of is The Bridge Project, where the rural students of class VIII and XI mentored students of class VI and VII
But this thirst to serve and give back to the society has been forever filled by the fact that he is the product of such kindness too. “A sense of community can change the life of an individual,” says Ramakrishnappa, who is thankful to the many good samaritans who have helped him along the way.
All together: Students in Palamaner, Andhra Pradesh
Check them out at facebook.com/jtdfoundation/