A marathon for classrooms

Srini Swaminathan is running and cycling to raise money for funding classrooms in Chennai and Hyderabad.

Updated - September 14, 2014 09:54 pm IST

Published - September 14, 2014 04:43 pm IST

Srini Swaminathan

Srini Swaminathan

Srini Swaminathan is running 250 km and cycling 2,000 km over a period of 150 days to raise awareness and funds for 20 low-income classrooms in Chennai and Hyderabad. A freelance teacher and educational consultant, Srini has been crowd-sourcing funds for social causes for three years now. In his fourth fundraising attempt, he expects to collect Rs.1,67,650, and in a span of three weeks and four marathons, has raised 80 per cent of his target.

Working as a teacher with Teach for India in a low-income school in Dharavi allowed Srini the chance to identify the problems of classrooms there and make a wish list. “When I spoke at Tedx Gateway four years ago, people came up to me and offered time, resources and money. So, there was never a dearth of people willing to help, but only a way of tying it together was required. So, when I wanted things for my classroom, I would make a list and ask people to contribute. I would also update my donors on how their money was being spent,” he says.

In 2011, Srini ran his first marathon to raise funds for his classroom. “They are still being used back there,” he adds. Crowd sourcing seemed like the most practical way to raise funds online. “My main goal was to spread awareness, and if you are running a campaign online, it means that it will reach far, even if the number of people who will actually donate is less,” he explains. “It also gave me the space to carry on with my life, whereas doing this in person would require a lot of time and travel. The most important thing tying all this together, of course, is my running.”

This campaign is looking at raising the money to fund for basic necessities in classrooms such as furniture, painting, stationary, projectors and also for field trips for classrooms associated with Teach for India. Srini will be posting updates on Milaap (the crowd sourcing website through which he is routing his campaign) and publishing reports, bank statements, receipts and other paperwork to maintain transparency and accountability.

With the Hyderabad, Bangalore Blue Mix and Chennai Trail Half Marathons, the Helsingborg full marathon and 100 km of cycling across the city already ticked off his list, Srini is now looking to successfully complete the Goa River half marathon, the Kerala Multi Stage Ultra Marathon (200 km) and 1,000 km of cycling in Chennai and the Tour of Tamil Nadu 2014 (1,000 kms cycling across the state) apart from a few others. “I am not doing this because I'm a runner but because it seemed impossible even for me,” says Srini. “But once I make the commitment and put it out there, I have to train hard and pull through this challenge.”

To help Srini achieve his target, visit his campaign page: >https://milaap.org/campaigns/dreamscometrue .

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