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Monday, May 23, 2011

Sachin strokes revive Howrah school’s dream

A pen stroke by Sachin Tendulkar has brought almost as much joy to some of his young fans as his cricket strokes have over the years.

Five bats signed by the master will be auctioned to fund the expansion of a primary school for underprivileged students in Howrah’s Tikiapara.

Sachin signed the bats on Wednesday in a Mumbai hotel where he was staying with his Mumbai Indian team-mates before their IPL match against the Rajasthan Royals.

“He took no more than five minutes to agree to help the slum school, once he heard that it needed money to build a floor to house the classroom for standard VI, a library and a staff room,” said Prashant Desai, an investment banker from Mumbai who corresponded with the cricketer regarding the project.

Samaritan Mission, the school, set up in 2001 with six students, now has 800. It needs Rs 15 lakh to offer education till Class VI.

With two companies picking up two of the signed bats for Rs 3 lakh each, the dream that school founder Mamoon Akhtar nurtures of adding classes each year and eventually affiliating the school to the ICSE board has received a shot in the arm.

“We had been looking for expansion funds for a year without success and I was beginning to worry that we would have to put the plan on the back burner, when my friend Mudar Patherya came up with the idea of getting help from Sachin Tendulkar. In the end, everything happened smoothly,” said Akhtar, who had dropped out of St Thomas Church School, Howrah, in Class VII because his parents could not fund his education. He cleared Class XII as a private candidate.

Patherya, who runs Trisys Communication in Calcutta, was working on a book called Sachindia, on Team India’s recent World Cup win, that Sachin was to launch.

“Initially, we had planned to get 200 copies of the book signed by Sachin. I had also got a well-known bookstore chain to display them for free and give away the sales proceeds to the school. But Sachin made it simple when he said that he would sign five bats which we could simply sell or auction on eBay,” Patherya told Metro.

On Wednesday, Sachin not only signed the bats but also a few of the books. He asked for two of his photographs published in the book to be mailed to him.

“The book is a collage of images and statistics along with reports published in various newspapers after the World Cup victory. He asked for two photographs to be mailed to him — one in which he is raising his bat to the heavens and the other of Yusuf Pathan and other team-mates lifting him during a victory lap,” said Patherya.

Sachin did not say much about the charity except that he was proud to be a part of the event and that he liked the book immensely, added Patherya.

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