A Scottish I-Day gift

Brick in the wall The mates from Scotland pose for a photo-op

Brick in the wall The mates from Scotland pose for a photo-op   | Photo Credit: Photo: Serish Nanisetti

What happens when seven students from Scotland descend on a sleepy hamlet near Hyderabad? Well, they build some loos for a change. Serish Nanisetti discovers more

“If we pay the two masons Rs. 350 for double time and Rs. 500 for the super mason won’t it affect the project?” Tim Walker asks the contractor Azhar through Madame Banerjee who translates as Tim pulls flips his backpack and takes out a sheaf of papers and does the calculations yet again. A little distance away are Kerry Norval, Darren Wight and Jasmine Cooper Sutton (everyone in work shoes, cargos and Tees) carrying the cement sand mix, shovelling it and supplying it to the mason so that he can go ahead with the plastering of the floor of the toilet. Elsewhere in the class IX classroom of Maharajpet ZP School, Sarah Norris is writing English words on the blackboard and passing the chalk to the students to let them write the translation. The students are excited as they translate sad, personality, clever and other words.

You will not find Maharajpet on but this bunch of seven students of Edinburgh University have been working, staying, eating (Friday’s meal: potato curry, rice and dal) in the village which skirts the Gandipet lake for the past few days so that they can build a few toilets for the school, ready a playground, plant a few trees and do their bit.

“You feel like a celebrity. All the children surround us wherever we go. And the village is very cooperative,” says Rosalyn Avares whose Indian mother grew up in Mumbai. Tim and Rosalyn are the team leaders, who chip in as well. Just to give an idea: Tim has managed to top the target of pounds 7000 they set out to do the project.

“All the money goes to the project. The airfare, the visas, the insurance and health costs are all borne by us, so there is total transparency in the effort,” says Rosalyn.

“They are up and ready here by 6 a.m.,” says Azhar. Another batch is in the school premises by 9 a.m. so that they can conduct a one-hour computer class before the power outage.

“They get quite a lot from us. As we speak only English they are picking up faster and our spelling classes too help,” says Sarah Norris. If the Indians are getting a taste of the Scottish work ethic, the students are also getting a close up view of a different culture and friendly, helpful people.

How this bunch of seven students landed up in the unmapped spot near Hyderabad is a story itself, and illustrates how small a village the world has become. “My daughter Comille Boudot-Reddy is studying in Edinburgh. She thought of the idea as I was already associated with this school and the team from Edinburgh Global Partnerships Projects took off from there and this has been in the works for the past nine months with the students working out the logistics, cost,” says Isabelle Collins who has been working as a facilitator.

So, on Independence Day when a few students at a ZP school lose the fear of going to toilets, it will be one more milestone for the globalised village of Maharajpet.

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