If you were to meet 12-year-old Hyderabad schoolgirl G. Sucharita, you wouldn’t gauge the pain she endured as a small child. Her alcoholic father used to thrash Sucharita and her mother, who finally took her own life. After that the father abandoned Sucharita, her brother Shivshankar and sister Madhuri. Yet, six years on, Sucharita is a delightful, bubbly tween. She even goes to an English-medium school, loves to sing and plays kho-kho. She owes all this to a young man named Srivyal Vuyyuri.
In 2005, after Sucharita’s father went away, her maternal grandmother took the three siblings in. It was a strain on the elderly woman who sold flowers for a living, until someone told her about Srivyal and his NGO called Sphoorti. He’d just set it up in an old rented house near Cherlapally, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, to take care of forsaken children like Sucharita. Today, with new quarters, Sphoorti [a Sanskrit word that means inspiration] houses and educates 108 children, and you can safely assume that most of them have stories as heartrending as Sucharita’s.
For 33-year-old Srivyal Vuyyuri, the inspiration to set up Sphoorti came about a decade ago, while he was studying for his master’s degree in economics at the University of Ohio, USA. He was amazed by the kind of schooling American children got. “It didn’t matter whether their fathers were cab drivers or businessmen,” he says, “all the kids went to good schools, in stark contrast to India, where only the better off can afford something as basic as good schooling.”
Back in Hyderabad, Srivyal began working as a research scholar with the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI). One day in 2005, he got chatting with G. Ashok, the driver of an autorickshaw he was in. Ashok told him that his two small children had been thrown out of an English-medium school because he could no longer afford the increased fees. Ashok was now thinking of moving them to a government school. “The poor man was devastated,” recalls Srivyal, “and so was I.” With three young friends, all ICFAI colleagues, he decided to sponsor the children’s education and help put them back in the English-medium school.
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