Travelling on a bike in 380 to 400 celcius degree heat on rough, unpredictable roads to remote villages is sometimes a part of Kiran Karigoudra’s job. Working as he does inspecting schools in Dharwad city and surrounding rural areas, there is nothing he has not come across in his five years as an inspection supervisor.
“If a van is delayed due to unavoidable reasons, I have to phone up all the principals in the pending schools to let them know about the situation. Sometimes there might be trouble in a village and the van will get held up, we have to manage that situation as soon as possible,” he says. Many rural villages in the region are located in remote forest areas where the poor condition of roads poses a problem to vehicles and special care needs to be taken during rainy days. Roads will often be blocked by rock or debris, and on occasions, Kiran has to place requests with the concerned authorities for the improvement of roads.
Having grown up in Dharwad himself, Kiran knows and understands very well the area in which he works. “In this school here,” he says of a remote village ensconced in the forests that surround Dharwad near Kalkeri, “children only come to school if there is food. People do depend on Akshaya Patra. The teachers are very dedicated too. Two of them walk 7km one way just to come here and teach.” According to Kiran, at least half the children in most villages of the region attend classes because of school lunch. “A cooked meal has made so much difference for education” he says. “Earlier, when the Government used to give dry rations, children would only attend school for one or two days when they distributed rations, take the rice and dal and then leave. They wouldn’t come back until the same time next month. Nowadays they come everyday.”
When inspecting, Kiran has to make sure that food arrives at schools on time, is satisfactory to the children and is in sufficient quantities, a job which he thoroughly enjoys. “I feel a great deal of happiness working for Akshaya Patra, because my work is for children. Here, I get responsibility and I get freedom to do my work,” he says.