OUR CAMPUS - BUDDHAVANA
Spoorthidhama Campus is an undulating land with valleys and steep rises. In additional we have a gift from nature in the form of a natural water body with a small island in the middle of it. The water body was initially very shallow. Over a few years, the depth of the water body was deepened and the little island expanded with a little bridge connecting to the main land.
Spoorthidhama team’s idea was to install a statue of the Buddha on the island. However they were very hesitant to commission it. It was rather complicated, particularly the expression on Buddha’s face. The face had to be serene with the hint of a gentle smile. The team was on the lookout for an experienced sculptor and finally decided to commission the statue to Narayana Rao from Shimoga who had expensive experience of sculpting statues for temples. He, along with an assistant, worked on campus for 12 days to get the statue ready. To the great delight of the Spoorthidhama team, the statue of the Buddha turned out just as was expected.
Another important element of the Buddhavana is the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the very entrance to the campus. This memorial statue was inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Lincoln was a great statesman who risked a Civil War where white people fought white people and thousands died to liberate the oppressed Black people.
Unlike the American context, Babsaheb struggled relentlessly against several odds in his efforts to liberate the dalits. It was his struggle which secured for the oppressed in India an empowered life of dignity and respect. It was therefore only befitting that we honor a man who dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of the downtrodden.
The statue of Ambedkar stands tall and when people lock up to him he is seen pointing in the direction of the Buddha on the island, the path one needs to take for liberation.The Covid 19 pandemic has proved particularly detrimental to the well- being of children, adolescents and youth. It has reversed several decades of work put in to improve children’s access to education and their academic progress. A recent study by the Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka covering 250 unaided private schools estimates that at least 60,000 children have dropped out of school. They expect this number to be much higher considering there are 3600 unaided private schools in the state. Government surveys are underway in the state and the situation across various districts is grim. For instance, in Kalburgi only 15% of children were reported to be attending school. The situation is similar even in the more developed districts such as Dakshina Kannada. The fact that children have had no offline classes for a second year in a row has resulted in loss of retention of what they had already learnt. Loss of two academic years is seen to be having far- reaching consequences on children’s overall learning capacities.
Apart from loss of academic skills, there have been several mental health issues that children have suffered apart from the fact that young boys could be drawn into petty crimes and addictions. Similarly, girl children are being pushed into early marriages, a fate worse than having to work. Similarly losing a parent to Covid has pushed children to an uncertain and risky future. In one instance, the lone bread winner of the family died due to Covid19 leaving behind his wife and three young children. His wife has started working as a domestic help. The oldest of the children aged 11 years has been put to work in a garage, which essentially means that this child will not resume school. The two youngest children aged 9 years and 7 years are at home by themselves increasing risks of abuse, kidnapping and trafficking. When it involves children with disabilities, they suffer greater levels of neglect as caregivers are struggling to make ends meet.
If we do not step in now to respond to the children’s crises then we stand to jeopardize an entire generation and the country’s future. This can be particularly dangerous for India where 43% of the population is between the ages of 5 to 19 years.
In an effort to prevent the children from getting caught in social and emotional quagmire, Spoorthidhama has planned activities to facilitate children’s transition back to school and offline classes, provide academic support to catch- up with learning loss and come up to speed to match age- appropriate classes.