School buildings of the past were usually tiled roof structures. These buildings are often of good structural quality but the tiled roofs over the years start developing leaks. Actually, these buildings built 30, 40 or 50 years back are often of much better quality than the buildings built more recently. If the roof leak is repaired, they can last much longer.
In August of 2022, I visited some schools along with two volunteers from Asha NYC-NJ chapter. We also visited the primary school at Athivakkam to see our teachers in action. We saw both our computer teacher Priya and our regular teacher Suganya teaching the classes. When we were talking to the headmistress, she requested our help to fix the leaks at one of the building. While the building was good the roof was leaking and the building was not usable during rains. Girish the volunteer from NYC-NJ, offered to try and raise the funds required for that work.
We visited some more schools and identified two more schools that met the criteria – PUMS Nelvoy and PUPS Kammavarpalayam. That is, they had a building which was structurally sound with just a leaking roof and had a strong need to use this building. We didn’t want a situation where we repair the building and it is anyway demolished within a couple of years because of other problems.
We started this work in Nelvoy in early Nov. Here is a brief report on these works. Click here to see all the photos from this work. This work was entirely funded by donations from Girish and his friends/family.
PUMS Nelvoy is a middle school with about 100 children. We have been supporting this school from about 2016-17. This school has two campuses. There is a small campus with just one school building and a broken toilet. Classes 1 to 4 use this building. The newer and bigger campus has good new buildings. This houses classes 5 to 8 and also has a separate room for the HM.
The older building for the primary school had lots of leaks. There were many gaps between the tiles and you could clearly see sunlight coming through these cracks. The building was in good shape. Here is our coordinator visiting the school with the contractor before the works.
The work was started on Nov 7th and completed in a week’s time. They replaced all the broken tiles. As pillars were available to support some weight, they did some brickwork to break a single long span of tiles into 3 spans to prevent the shift of tile. They did the cement packing of the tiles, especially the ones in the top and bottom rows. At this point there were rains for a couple of days and we could check that this itself had arrested all the leaks. Then they did one more step of putting tarpaulin sheets to cover the roof. This will ensure several years of leak free operation. Here are some photos of their work.
I also got to visit the school on 22nd Nov to see the complted work. Here is a photo of the school building.
We have been supporting this school from 2014-15. This is a small primary school with about 30 children. While it has two teachers, the HM is out on long leave due to health reasons and the school is run by a single teacher. Half the children come from this village and the other half are very poor tribals from a hamlet a couple of kilometers away. The school has just one building. They had done some tarpaulin work some 5+ years back. That work was of poor quality and it had got torn at many places. The underlying tiles had also shifted and developed leaks at many places. As this was the only building at the school, they were having a very difficult time. Here are some pictures of the building before the work started.
The work was started in this school on 29th Nov. When we were doing the work, the school was functioning from the courtyard of the neighbouring house. Here they had to first remove the torn tarpaulin sheet that was there on the roof first. There is a video in the album of the water that was trapped under that flowing through the roof. Here too they replaced broken tiles, did cement fixing of the tiles and then put tarpaulin sheet to cover the whole roof. Here too there was a gap of almost two weeks between the tiles/cement fixing work and the tarpaulin sheets. These were two weeks of almost constant rain. The leak was totally arrested before the tarpaulin sheet was fixed.
Even though this whole work started because of a request from PUPS Athivakkam, it ended up being the last school to be taken up for roof repair. Another building in the school was demolished. And when they did that work, the contractor also agreed to reseat the tiles in this building which had roof leak. Therefore we did not start the roof work there. However the govt contractor did a poor job of the tiles replacement / reseating and also did not do any cemebt packing. While the leak was reduced, it continued and the building remained unusable.
Therefore the HM requested us again to just put the tarpaulin sheets. Here is a picture of me at the school with the HM and also a picture of the tiles showing the gaps that were still there.
Since reseating the tile once again will add cost but not too much value since most of the broken tiles have already been replaced, we only undertook the tarpauling sheet fixing work. It was done on the 8th and 9th of Jan. Here are some photos of the work.