Snehalaya, a school for special kids in Mira Road which was on the verge of shutdown, now sees a ray of hope thanks to a group of bikers.
For the past three years it has been a tradition for Carl Gawli and his group of bikers to celebrate World Disabled Day by inviting around 10 schools for children with special needs from Thane and Navi Mumbai to come together for cultural activities. And this year he found out that one such school was likely to drop off the list.
Carl Gawli celebrating with the children of Snehalaya
10-year-old Snehalaya School in Mira Road was on the verge of shutting down due to a severe funds crunch.“The school charges a nominal fee of around R400-500 a year. However, the rent of the building that houses the school is quite high and the officials are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet,” explains Gawli, an interior designer by profession.
“I was on my way for a ride to Rajasthan when I received a call updating me about the goings-on. After three weeks, when I visited the school, the authorities were on the verge of shutting it down,” he says.
Gawli, who also happens to be the founder of the Night Wolf Riding Commando, an NGO, spread the word in his bikers community. “I was unsure about the amount of support I would get, but I had my fingers crossed,” he says.
He put up a post on Facebook stating the school, which has around 50-odd students, was in dire need for funds. Much to his delight, it got an overwhelming response. Support poured in from across the country.
To garner more support, Gawli went on a 20-day road-trip across India on his bike. “I started from Mumbai and my first pitstop was Surat, where I got support from three biker clubs and their total donation amount came to about
R65,000. The response was equally heartwarming in Ahmedabad and Udaipur,” he informs.
He managed to collect more than a lakh through this ride. However, this wasn’t enough. “We then decided to involve corporates. They agreed to donate in exchange of advertisements,” he says.
Gawli adds that to avoid the misuse of funds, donors were asked to deposit the amount directly to the school’s account or through a cheque in the name of Goodwill Organisation, an NGO that is supporting Snehalaya.
Although the funds collected will ensure that Snehalay will not have to pull down their shutters in the near future, the fight is far from over. “The question of sustainability comes in. So, we are continuing with our efforts to pump in more money into its coffers. We are optimistic that our efforts will pay off,” he says.