Place: Nagerkoodal, Nallampalli Union, Dharmapuri
From Nallampalli, You can take bus 10A to the school
but the frequency will be less. Auto will charge Rs. 200
A visit to Puvidham, a model school based in my native town Dharmapuri was a long-standing plan, achieved recently last week along with a friend Priyanka. Puvidham Learning Centre was started in 2000 by two architects, Meenatchi and Umesh in Nagerkoodal village in Dharmapuri. They follow Montessori Method of Teaching. Instead of detailing and listing out each and everything they have focused on, A story of our guide through Puvidham, a first standard student Kanishka will sum up everything.
“Shall we go to hostel?”, she started off down the stones reaching out to a narrow trail behind a tree. She walked barefooted, cautiously warning us about thorns and stones, “I will manage.” Once we reach their hostel, there were two kids, Jayaraman and Sujatha (if my memory is right) peeling off Aloevera. We were curious to know what they were doing with it and they replied that they are going to make bathing soaps with them.
“Do you know to make soaps? How will you make it?”
“No, We don’t. Our teacher will teach us.”
We introduced ourselves to them, in exchange of their names, and started to move on. Jayaraman, suddenly asked us, “What will you become?”
She said,”I am studying Architecture. I will build houses and other buildings.”
He continued, “And He??”
I, with full of doubts to myself replied, “I am a Mechanical Engineer. I make machines. What are you going to be?”
We wished him success for that and turned to Kanishka for her dream in life. She without any hesitation, “I will become farmer. For everyone who is hungry, I will grow fruits and give them.”
After that we saw their kitchen, their
hostel rooms upstairs and a small round ampitheatre below with walls full of paintings out of which she pointed out at two flying crows that she drew them. She told us about their visits to many places and the lots of birds they’ve seen. She explained us the lifecycle of a woodpecker, the color of a kingfisher and so many others. She then shared us her journey to reach Puvidham all the way from Bombay, where she was left alone.
We then proceeded to the farms where each standard of students have their separate place to grow plants and trees where we found her footwear left as well. She named each and every plant there and told us what it will give us, occassionally. She recalled about a small swimming pit, where they happily swim during the rains, and took us near a deep well and ran away from there scaringly.
She said, “Nature has given us everything. We should protect nature.”
We then turned back to hostel, where we found two kitten and a mother cat. Kanishka took both the cats lovingly in her arms, gave them a bowl of porridge, with words of motherlove. She showed us a merry-go-round under construction, that she hopes it will be happier to run it.
On our return, she told us about her plans next for the day, and that she will not sleep without finishing her homework. She continued, “Here, Meenatchi aunty is like mother to me. I will finish the homework daily. If I finish everything correctly, and do my work, She will be happy. I want to make her happy all the life.” She ended the journey with a story about a birthday celebration of a sparrow in a forest.
We then roamed inside the classrooms, looking awe at the structure of the buildings, domes and arches there, and the crafts and paintings that students have done. We sat down with Meenatchi at the end of the day, without knowing to contemplate how much satisfied we are.
A brief chat with Meenatchi made us know more about them, “We don’t encourage students who come far-off from cities. We usually scare the parents of the food they need to eat and place they have to sleep on, so that we won’t have people going off in the middle. We have students from LKG to 8th standard, and Nine teachers. We teach them tamil, english, arts, crafts, origami, weaving, farming, embroidery, and so on.”
“Did she show you that merry-go-round?”
“We are trying to use it for grinding rice to flour. We don’t know if it works. But we are planning to convert this whole place as a science exhibit.”
We bid goodbye to her, with stomach-filled coffee and heart-filled happiness.