Old friends work together to give rural school much-needed boost

A 25-year old friendship paid off when Prashant Chavan, who runs a school in the Soni village of Miraj Talulka, invited four of his batchmates as chief guests on Republic Day this year. Seven months later, the school has new toilets, a well-equipped library, a better building, sola power systems, a state-of-the-art sports ground and a developing computer lab, all because of his friends.
Krantiveer Dattajirao Patil Secondary and Higher Secondary School was started by Chavan’s father and his friends in 1992.
“I studied in St Vincent’s School till X, completed my graduation in Wadia College and then worked with the Pune Stock Exchange. Pune is everything to me. My father, who wasn’t keeping well at the time, asked me to pursue a degree in education, so I left my job and went back to Soni village to look after this school in 1996.”
At a St Vincent alumni meet in 2013, Chavan reunited his friends and kept in touch with them ever since. “It was such a happy time. Imagine meeting after 25 years. When I told them about the school, they readily sent Rs22,000 to sponsor the education of some students.”
But Chavan also wanted them to visit the school and arranged foe a get-together during the Republic Day function.
“They took a walk around the premises and talked to the students after the function. In June, they invited me to Pune and handed over the first cheque. Soon, more funds followed and the renovation began. By Independence Day, the toilets and library were ready for inauguration,” Chavan said.
Chavan’s classmates Tanveer Inamdar, CEO of TAIN Constructions said,”After our first visit to the school, we decided to help. It is a drought-prone area and good schools are scarce. For over 600 girl students, there was only one common toilet. We managed to rope in 62 more friends and raised over Rs10 lakh. The amount was utilized to build multiple toilets with a commode for the differently-abled students.
Next year too, Rs10 lakh will be raised to install 30 computers and other infrastructural amends. “A friend has promised to help by donating Rs5 lakh over each of the next three years as part of his firm’s CSR activity,” Tanveer said.
Humbled by the contributions his classmates, Chavan said,” Although we met after a gap of 25 years, they helped me without any hesitation. If this isn’t friendship, I don’t know what is.”