Srivyal, whom the kids address as Mamayyia [maternal uncle], hopes to introduce Sphoorti’s eight oldest children, all in their eighth standard, to the Cambridge International curriculum in the coming academic year so that they’ll take the 10th standard International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), an examination that is usually available only to children of elite schools. “We have experienced teachers coming in to help make it easier for these children to transfer to the IGCSE stream,” says Srivyal, who is getting support for this plan from Generic Indian Kid, another US-registered non-profit for Indian children, which is setting up a school in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, there’s also a mentoring program where older children teach younger ones, even taking tests and correcting papers. Sphoorti has a 1000-book library, recreation rooms and computer facilities. The children also get regular medical check-ups. “We can never substitute for their parents,” Srivyal says, “but for our kids, we try to be substitute parents in whatever way possible.”
In between all his work, Srivyal got married in February 2007, putting his parents’ fears to rest. Wife Venkateswari, although not on the paid staff, spends much of her time looking after Sphoorti’s girls, hoping to groom them into fine young ladies. The couple has a two-year-old son, Aditya, who Srivyal hopes will grow up with Sphoorti’s children and get the same schooling.
Meanwhile, Sphoorti has been expanding. In September 2009, its 48 girls moved from the old rented place to a just-finished two-storey, 5000-square-foot quarters built with money from donors on leased land. And the Andhra government has given them three acres, where Srivyal plans to build a boarding school for underprivileged children. The JJ Metta Memorial Foundation will fund it. For the four friends who founded Sphoorti, that is a once abandoned dream coming true! “It will be a first-rate boarding school,” says Srivyal, “and I can see a lot of poor children getting the kind of education now available only to the privileged few.”
Just like he’d seen in America.
But why would any US-educated Indian return home, give up his corporate job and a life of luxury and comfort to be among children he need never have worried about? Srivyal answers that question with another question. “What is your idea of luxury?” he asks. “I find this job very comforting. I’ve seen the corporate and academic worlds. My heart was not there. You should follow what you are passionate about.”
The Editors, with reporting by Ashlin Mathew in Hyderabad
To learn more about, or to help, Sphoorti visit www.sphoorti.org
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