Sridhar Reddy spends 40% of his salary on social work and has also been crowdsourcing funds through his FB page ‘Manna Miriyalaguda’.

From toilets to sports wear this Telangana man is providing for 34 govt schoolsMannem Sridhar Reddy/Facebook
Features Human interest Monday, September 24, 2018 - 19:08

It was in August 1999, that a government school teacher went to Sridhar Reddy’s home and asked him to visit their school for Independence Day. The school was at his father’s native place at Edulagudem in Telangana. The teacher was Sridhar’s late father’s acquaintance and so he immediately agreed.

During the visit, Sridhar learnt how his father used to arrange activities for the children in the school on every Independence Day and Republic Day and had also sponsored the education of a few underprivileged kids in the school. Neither Sridhar nor his family knew anything about this and he was left surprised and emotional at the same time.

“Emotional, because we never knew this side of our father who was killed in a Maoist attack in 1998. My father, who was a government employee, was on a pilgrimage to Yadagirigutta, when he was gunned down by the Maoists. To add to the grief, it was a case of mistaken identity. My father was visiting his friend who was a police inspector in Yadagirigutta. The Maoists took him to be a cop and killed him on the spot,” Sridhar recalls.

The visit to the school in Edulagudem, near Miryalaguda, inspired Sridhar and he decided to carry forward his father’s legacy.

“On August 15, 1999, I donated a few books and painting material to the kids in the school. Later, when I learnt that the students didn’t have a bench or a chair to sit, I withdrew Rs 90,000 from my savings and paid for the items,” the 41-year-old says.

Since then, Mannem Sridhar Reddy, a government employee in Medak district, has adopted 34 government schools in and around Miryalaguda.

“I assist with everything from arranging schoolbags, books, food provisions, projectors, study material, painting kits, benches, ceiling fans, construction of toilets, sports equipment and other aspects of infrastructure,” the 41-year-old says.

“I also go to each school, interact with kids and identify what their talents are. Some might be interested in sports, some like books while many have asked me to build a proper laboratory. All my Sundays, I spend visiting different schools. I don’t even have a single casual leave pending at work,” Sridhar smiles.

‘Manna Miryalaguda’

In 2009, after adopting two schools, Sridhar received several requests from principals, asking him to adopt their schools. After a decade of social work, Sridhar realised he couldn’t do it all alone. It had taken a toll on his bank balance as well.

“That’s when I came up with the idea of starting a Facebook page where I could connect with the residents of Miryalaguda. It included many of my friends, relatives who had settled abroad and had left the town in search of better job prospects.”

Today, Manna Miryalaguda proudly boasts of a membership of over 23,000 and a lot of positive developments have taken place not just around Miryalaguda, but also in neighbouring towns and villages.

“For example, in Mukundapuram government school, almost 20 km away from Miryalaguda, my friends and I delivered sports shoes and sports dress for all children, a projector to enable digital classes, and removed all bushes in the school campus for the provision of a neat playground. The children there play volleyball, and some of them have been selected for Under-14 state and national level competitions. In fact, with the help of the Telangana Cultural Association of Portland, we helped two volleyball players from the school, Uma and Shilpa, to get sponsorship for their intermediate education,” Sridhar says.

At Mukundapuram, Sridhar and his team have taught students how to grow vegetables using organic farming methods after clearing out all the bushes in their backyard.

"On occasion, the students consume their lunch from the produce grown at the school,” he says.

Sridhar is also sponsoring the education of two students from underprivileged backgrounds—Kaushik and Shankar. Both are sons of daily wage workers. “Shankar had to give up his education after his father met with a terrible accident few years back. Hearing about him from his school teacher, we decided to fund his education. Both the kids now study in a local engineering college,” Sridhar says.

Not just educational needs, Sridhar and his team have also been holding health and mental awareness classes in schools and providing financial assistance to people in need around Miryalaguda.

“One day, the Nalagonda District NRI Association called me to conduct a cancer health checkup in the town. More than 750 people had attended the event. Unfortunately, 24 were identified with first stage cancer. I personally met all 24 people and facilitated their treatment at the Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital in Hyderabad. A few of them are out of danger now,” Sridhar says.

Sridhar says he spends around 40% of his salary for the welfare of the kids in these schools. And to ensure that he spends only the bare minimum for his personal needs, he cycles to work every day.

“I cycle almost 40km up and down to work every day, saving around Rs 5,000 a month. By the end of every year, I also withdraw my provident fund money and spend them on children. We also take monetary assistance from ‘Donatekart’, which has helped us in crowdsourcing funds whenever we have faced cash crunch.”

Crusade against plastic

Further, Sridhar and his team are creating awareness about the excessive use of plastic in Indian households. Till date, they have distributed around 60,000 jute bags in the town and have come up with a unique idea to solve the plastic menace.

“Outside every meat shop, we have put up banners asking residents to carry them in tiffin boxes instead of plastic. Those who comply will send a picture to me of the same on WhatsApp, and in return, they will receive Rs 100,” says Sridhar.

Talking about his future plans, Sridhar says his recent transfer to Medak from Hyderabad has hindered his plans a little.

“My wife still works for an MNC in Hyderabad. I am aware of my challenges and things are little difficult now. But I hope to adopt schools in Medak as well and continue sponsoring students who are financially deprived," he says.

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