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Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interestand looks like this 42-year-old exemplary teacher from Zilla Parishad school in Ambegaon Taluka in Pune completely abides by it.

When two extremely bright students at this school stopped performing well in June, last year, Datta Walunj decided to intervene and understand the reason behind this.

Datta Walunj (center) with guardians of children he sponsors | image: TOI

He decided to visit the homes of these students and to his shock, Walunj found out that both had recently lost their fathers and their mothers are getting remarried. Hence, these kids are left with their grandparents by their mothers. While one of them was in class I, the other was in class II. Walunj realized that if he doesn’t support them, their future will be doomed. Therefore, he decided to sponsor their education and change their fate forever.

According to TOI report, he plans to take charge of the education of these needy children until they have completed class X and he has bought all the necessary items such as – books, stationery, school bags, tiffin boxes, sweaters, umbrellas and other educational material for their whole academic year.

But, his philanthropic work didn’t stop here, after seeing these kids’ lit up faces, Walunj asked his fellow teachers in the school to come forward and help other children from the disadvantaged background. After finding 18 more names, he went to these students’ homes to check their conditions.

When asked how he justified spending almost Rs.20,000 for the 20 children, Walunj said, “As Zilla Parishad teachers, we hardly do any teaching work between May 6 and June 14. However, we get our salary on the designated day, without fail. I understand that I may not be able to help all the needy children in the state, but I can help at least the ones in my taluka. The money that I get from the government while on vacation is justified to some extent.”

A father of two young children and with a salary of 50,000 per month, Walunj is now sponsoring the education of 50 students in total.

Justifying the two-months salary he receives during vacations on the designed date, Walunj’s only mission is to see these children succeed in life and leave behind the poverty-stricken life and therefore, he has dedicated his life to sponsor the education of these needy kids. While talking to TOI, Walunj says, “During the vacation time, I can verify the condition of each student and select the neediest of them and then give them the necessary things before the school reopens.”

The ZP teacher believes from the core of his heart that education is the best weapon you can equip someone with and therefore, he aims to provide basic education to these children. “I want these children to succeed in life. I know they are struggling emotionally and physically due to poverty and other things. At least in their academic sphere, I want them to have everything they need to succeed,” he concludes.