SALEM: When Krithik Ramesh, 16, from Denver, USA, came to India in November, he wanted to visit the government school at Deviyakuruchi near Attur where his grandfather V Muthuraman completed his schooling. Krithik, who studies at Cherry Creek High School at Greenwood village in Denver, was appalled at the sight of the school. “My images were shattered when I stepped into the school. It was unclean and did not have adequate amenities. Schoolteachers there said this was the state of many government schools in India. That’s when I decided to do something,” he said.
With help from his grandfather and his father M Ramesh Babu, Krithik, an Overseas Citizen of India, started an NGO, Empowering Rural India Foundation, about two weeks ago. When funds became an issue, his family members suggested him to find sponsors.
But the 16-year-old donated his own money of 6,000 US dollars. “In May, I won the first prize in an international science fair held in Pittsburgh and received a cash award of 3,000 US dollars. Besides, I decided to put another 3,000 US dollars from my savings,” he said.
When funds in hands, he approached the school management and asked them about their needs. Headmaster Perumal said installation of solar panels would help the school as it was affected by frequent power disruptions.
Krithik immediately accepted the idea and started searching for companies that install solar panels along with his father and mother Karpagavalli. They zeroed in on one and installed solar panels recently.
“The school is incurring about Rs 15,000 as electricity charges every two months. With solar panels, we can save that money,” said a teacher, on the condition of anonymity.
Krithik said the solar panels could produce 2kw of power. “The requirement of school is less than 2kw. It could sell excess power to the Tamil Nadu electricity board,” he said.
Ramesh Babu said his son’s idea was to build sustainable and renewable energy systems that would serve schools in India for decades. “Our goal is to improve academic success and create self-sustaining solutions to build up a strong infrastructure,” he said.
Krithik, who will return to the US by the end of the month, said, “I will participate in more science fairs, will get more money and contribute something to government schools in India.” He also requested schoolteachers to contact his NGO when they need anything for their schools.