Inspiration

G K Swamy: Transforming the lives of underprivileged rural children through holistic education, nutrition and healthcare

Nichola Pais
G K Swamy: Transforming the lives of underprivileged rural children through holistic education, nutrition and healthcare

Our series "Teacher Warriors" honours some of the country’s best and bravest teacher warriors, striving to give kids a fighting chance at a better present and a future floating with possibilities. In the sixth episode, Nichola Pais speaks to Mr G K Swamy, Founder and secretary, Purkal Youth Development Society :

The Purkal Youth Development Society, Dehradun has come a long way. From starting off in 1998 as an informal free home tutoring facility for four students, it has grown into the PYDS Learning Academy, a full-fledged CBSE affiliated school for over 435 rural children, with infrastructure at par with the best. Combined with the Early Childhood Learning Centre, On To Life – Post 12th Support, and numerous Community Development initiatives, PYDS has been fostering an unimaginable transformation in the lives of the poorest of the poor. At the core of this mission; the passionate, pioneering, indefatigable Founder-CEO, G K Swamy…

What is it that fuels your hope and motivation?

The motto of the organization is ‘Life is for Giving’. Consciously over the years I have been molding my life so that I live it well. To feel gratitude to the Great Source and to treat this gratitude in the form of a strong and regular commitment, is the reason for this Mission. Although aware of the challenges that the Mission implied, I believed that the Universe always responds. I am grateful for all that I have received. I have also sometimes felt helpless in the face of challenges that this effort implied. Prayer happens naturally in both these conditions. This prayer has transformed me and strengthened my resolve to do more. It has meant surrender to His Will and offering all that I have.

What better motivation can one have beyond realizing that you are on the path pre-determined? Since it is His work, it is yielding results. This is enough motivation to continue. I shall continue with this one conviction that the future is His Will.

Do you believe education is the responsibility of the community?

I always believed that Saraswathy cannot be sold for a price; that it was the duty of the community to educate the children. I still believe this. There are many who are well endowed and they should all contribute, give their time and make it happen. It cannot be left to a money making institution called a school or to an impersonal government that seeks to deliver education through paid employees. All new expenses were accepted because there was a need and we have been able to find donors for the purpose. We grew from nutrition to guaranteed medical aid and on to new hostels. We help children travel extensively. They all get adventure experience and very good learning. We have more challenges ahead as well and we shall meet them.

Has sustainability been a concern at PYDS?

Our sustainability is our donor population all of whom will help as long as there is honesty, accountability and transparency. The most important is the passion for the Mission. The program is not fragile since we have over 300 steady donors and this number is increasing. We have seven corporates and foundations just now and this number is steady and growing even though a few of them have dropped out after a few years of support. Others have come in. This exercise of finding donor corporations is not easy but we work with faith.

Talking of sustainability, I often ask myself whether Tirupati Devasthanam or the Golden Temple would have discussed sustainability when they began many hundred years ago. They depended on faith. That is religion. We need to think of education also as a religion. Indeed the many who support us, do so because of their faith in the possibility of education.

Although I do not know much about Oxford, Harvard or Yale, I understand that much of it was built out of charity.

Do you dream big for the disadvantaged children you work with?

Our vision for the disadvantaged children is to create leaders for change: individual, social and global.

Leadership is not the assertion of oneself; leadership is the art of fulfilling the aspirations of others. A leader for change in the social and global domain must first evolve oneself. We cannot change others; we can only bring a change in ourselves and be a role model. The change should be for the benefit of humanity and not merely personal. This can only happen if one can see and be a part of the bigger picture.

We wish to witness the emergence of leaders from amongst the poorest young people in the community, preferably girls. Achieving laurels for the country, they should be leaders in academics, professions and trades: grounded in values and culture with a global outlook. Serving as catalysts of change the new hope instilled by them should encourage Purkal to become the model for change for rural agglomerates...To achieve excellence among rural children and make them capable of functioning as Change agents of the Community.

Excellence is not mere achieving success in life but to serve as catalysts of change. Their personalities should encourage Purkal to become a model for other rural communities. The idea of providing holistic education as a means of realizing the potential of the individual is twofold: becoming human and being human. The effort is to prepare children for a normal productive life, to help them learn to observe the values of human and rise above the compulsions of the animal instinct in a man.

This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue as a part of our cover story on Teacher Warriors. Subscribe to ScooNews Magazine today to have more such stories delivered to your desk every month.

< EP5: Fr Maria Julian | EP7: Gazi Jalaluddin >

  • Inspiration

    The only graduate of a Tamil Nadu village has volunteered to teach...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    This teacher from Dahod, Gujarat got old television sets and had...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    Geetha wrote letters to her students expressing how much she...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    This teacher found some ‘out of school’ children working in a...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    A primary school, in a small district of Gujarat, has its humble...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    Gurpreet Singh, a teacher from Jalandhar cycled 32,000 km in the...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    This primary school teacher does not begin with teaching the...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    Lakshmy Ramanathan an English teacher is using epics to teach her...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    This Washington DC elementary teacher has become a superhero by...

    Read more
  • Inspiration

    A teacher from Sagar, MP rides on his mobile classroom turned...

    Read more
arw_top