Finally, there is a helping hand for the distinguished but conveniently forgotten Kamla Nehru Shishu Vihar, an institution imbued with the values of sacrifice and social commitment demonstrate by Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan.
But it has not come from any of his rich and famous disciples holding powerful positions. The help has come from unexpected quarter - far off Lausanne, Switzerland.
Marie-Claude Meyrat and her India-born husband Gautam Prasad are these days on a mission in Patna – to carry forward JP’s rich legacy by infusing a new lease of life into the dying institution. But do they have to do with JP?
“We have to do with the children for whom JP had and his wife had so much concern. When Gautam told me about it, we decided to do something,” said Meyrat.
The couple work for Philip Morris International Co, headquartered in Lausanne. “This is a wedding gift that we want to give to the school. We have already developed a website to seek international cooperation for the school. We have also discussed the project with the school principal Sunita Prasad to bring in more sponsorships not only for the students, but also for the teachers, who get pittance in the name of salary. I am hopeful the civil society will also respond,” said Gautam.
JP and his wife Prabhavati Devi founded the school in 1962 to help children from impoverished families join mainstream education. It was inaugurated by the then Union Minister for Minister Dr KL.Shrimali. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru had sent Rs 250 from his pay for the school.
Till his death, JP was himself the chairman of the school trust and resources were never a problem. However, after JP’s demise the instruction’s fortunes started dipping even as his disciples scaled new heights.
Though it has a sprawling Shani Niketan like campus in 4.5 acres, the infrastructure still reminds one of the ravages of 1975 floods. “When I came here, I was inspired by the environment but shocked to see the scenario,” she added.
Meyrat and her husband have given Rs 5 lakh, collected from the guests at their wedding party, to the school to begin with. Of the amount, Rs 3 lakh has been fixed in banks for sponsoring 11 students, while the rest amount would be used for developing basic infrastructure.
The school at present has 350 students, including 34 hostellers. The school principal is quite optimistic about the new initiative.
“In fact, the school runs mostly on individual sponsorships. But it is not enough, considering all those studying here are from the poorest sections.
"Till JP was alive, the Welfare Department used to give a nominal amount. That also stopped long back. If we get more sponsorships, it will be better for the students as well as the school,” she added.