Echoing with the giggles of nursery kids playing around, this two-storey school building looks like any other school.
However, Gamru village school as it is known in the outskirts of Dharamsala is all different. It has not only been giving wings to the dreams of little children coming from very poor families, mostly labour class, for the past 12 years, but it also sets an example of selfless service by a group of dedicated teachers.
An unknown entity until a few years ago, Gamru school surviving against all odds is now known worldwide for the unique concept in the field of education.
The school was started by Philip Adams, a British national, in 2004, who while holidaying in the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama came across many children in Gamru village who were not attending school.
Working closely with the local community, Adams volunteered to establish the school. His friends, a group of foreigners, living in the village and locals supplemented his efforts and motivated labourers to send their children to school.
Initially started in a small accommodation with 45 kids, the school has now 182 students on roll. In the absence of proper infrastructure, running the school proved to be an uphill task for the group.
Paucity of funds affected the growth of the school, but couldn't deter the determination and dedication of the teachers, who did everything possible to keep the dreams of poor labourers alive for whom the school was only a glimmer of hope to brighten the future.
The school came almost on a verge of closure in 2007 due to lack of funds and teachers and staff went without salaries for almost a year. This time Anna Marie from Belgium came forward and extended help by generating funds from European countries through her NGO.
“Now, we have been getting sufficient funds for the past two years,” principal of the school Meenakshi Sharma, who quit her job in a government school for the project. “Many a time there were hardly any funds available for running the school and we had contemplated to close it down,” said Sharma, adding that now as the project is successful , it gives her immense pleasure and satisfaction.
Marie, who is sponsoring the school for over six years, said she had come to donate a water filter when she came to know about the acute shortage of funds.
“It was a cause worthwhile supporting, hence I decided to generate funds,” said Marie. What she appreciates the most is hard work and dedication of teachers who despite minimal salaries are working for the project.
The school provides free-of-cost books, uniforms and meals to the students. Besides formal education, the students are also taught craft work.
The school also provides free-of-cost health care facilities to the students and people living in the surrounding areas.