CHENNAI: When the water came pouring into their house in West Mambalam, R Sailasree and her family sought refuge on the upper storey and terrace of their two-storied house. A day later, they were able to move to her brother-in-law’s house in Annanagar. While they are safe and sound, she and her husband are now worried how their son, R Hariharan, will cope with his studies. Apart from missing almost a month of school, all his second term books have been washed away.
“He is in Class 9 and has lost all his books. Though we can get the notebooks from his friends and photocopy them, we need textbooks urgently,” says Sailasree.
Many students like him are in a quandary as they have lost all their textbooks and notebooks in the floods. The state government has distributed 50,000 notebooks in Chennai district while 10,500 notebooks and 7,500 uniforms were distributed in Cuddalore in the last week of November, says the department of school education.
But for other school and college students, it is a tough road ahead. It is to help these students out that A Vivek and his brother Vivin have launched an initiative. School and college students can WhatsApp their requirements and the duo, sourcing books from across Tamil Nadu, will supply them with the books. Though they launched the initiative on Sunday night by Monday morning they received 25 such requests.
“We are collecting funds from India and abroad and buying books for school and college students, according to the requirement,” says 24-year-old Vivek, who has just finished his ME from St Joseph’s College of Engineering.
Since many textbooks are difficult to get at this time of year V Sridhar, owner of Vijaya Stores, Mylapore, has come forward to help. “We can get textbooks from Delhi in a week or 10 days,” says Sridhar. “We can help needy students by giving them textbooks free. We are also planning to distribute free notebooks, pencils and pens.”
The Senior Citizens Group of Besant Nagar is also requesting people to donate old school and college textbooks as well as new notebooks so that they can distribute it among students. “Since we all manage on our pension, we can’t afford to buy new books,” says Prof V Chandrasekhar, president of the group. (People can drop off books at B 12/12, 25th Cross Street, Besant Nagar or contact Chandrasekhar at 9884224480.)
Educational institutions are planning to reach out and reassure students once they come back to school. “We can check availability of textbooks and get them. Or else, we can photocopy it. We will also be offering counselling to instill confidence in students and parents,” says Vael’s Billabong High International School principal Meenakshi Ramesh, adding that they are planning to hold classes for class 10 and 12 students on Sundays.
School counsellors will also be talking to students as many may be stressed after having their homes flooded, or anxious about completing the portions and dealing with the exams. “Trauma is trauma, whether it is the floods or exams,” says Magdalene Jeyarathnam, founder, Center for Counselling, which also does counselling in schools.
(People who want books can WhatsApp Vivin at 9677035963, or Vivek at 9566180758. If you want to help SCGOBN, you can drop off books at B 12/12, 25th Cross Street, Besant Nagar or contact Chandrasekhar at 9884224480)