Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 24 - The First of the Last (Kalleda)

The Golconda Express leaves the Secunderabad Junction station at 1 pm and arrives at Nekkonda, just past Warangal, at about 4 pm. Trains, of course, tend to be late, so by the time we arrive, it's about 4:45. A school auto picks us up and takes us to the village of Kalleda, which is located on a well-traveled road (buses lumber by every half hour or so).

The school here is housed in an old house built in 1936. It's more of an estate, really, like a zamindar's house. 
Since the house was not being used much, the many-branched family that started the RDF donated the building for the purpose of the school. It's impressive, but it feels like a bit more like a house and a bit less like a school.

And this giant mansion surrounded by 15-20 foot white walls in the middle of a village of small houses and huts also feels like a symbol of past oppression.

There's a reason Naxalites came into being, and this really seems like a great example of it. But the family donated the house and is very involved in funding and maintaining the school, so their intentions now are good, and I support that. Apparently, so do the Naxalites now, according to a story from the founding of the Matendla school:
On one occasion, when members of RDF were travelling to Matendla for a site appraisal, the group was accosted by a Naxal supporter armed with several grenades and a rifle slung across the handlebars of his bicycle. The man escorted the group to meet his leader who demanded to know why they had visited the area. “When we told him why we were there, he not only extended his support to the project, but also promised a donation of Rs. 10,000 towards the school,” says [the current CEO of the RDF] E. Vandita Rao, who was part of the group.

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