TREP was started in 1991 in a simple, humble way with 4 boy students coming from very poor Harijan and Tribal backgrounds. They were eager for education but lacked the opportunity and finances to get a proper one. By the will of the Divine these four lucky boys became the first “trail blazers” into this special education program which has now given balanced education to hundreds of boys and girls.
ORIGINS OF TREP
One day in 1991, Bojamma, one of the resident mothers of our ‘adopted’ Tribal village, Uthenahalli, located in Periyapatna taluk, outside of the town of Hunsur, Mysore District, came to Prashanthi Nilayam and pleaded with the managing trustee and secretary of the Trust to take her 6th std son, Ravindra into the ashram and provide him with a decent education. She complained that her son was not getting a good education from the Tribal village school in the area. She explained that the school was overcrowded with 125 students of various standards being taught by only one government teacher.
The Trustees moved by her plea and the boys plight decided to take Ravindra, but felt that it would not be good to have just one single boy. That evening itself they traveled to Uthenahalli to see if any other student would be interested to be in the ashram and continue his studies there along with Ravindra. At the end of the day 4 boys, 2 Tribal and 2 Harijan boys came to Prashanthi Nilayam to commence their educational experience.
Coming from very poor economic backgrounds, the Trust decided to financial help these boys fully while living in the ashram. They attended the local government school in Ponnampet as well as participated in the ashram activities of prayers, devotional singing (bhajans) and service in the ashram as well as in the local communities. A full time warden who coached the boys in their studies was essential as those students had very poor prior educational background and their families were illiterate. In additional a special class in human values was given to the boys to strengthen their moral character. This was the beginning of our Tribal Residential Education Programme called TREP.
The following year several other families wanted their sons to be admitted in TREP and thus the programme expanded to 8 boys in 5th to 9th std. More structure and activities were designed for the TREP programme as it grew each year with more deserving kids entering into TREP.
TREP continued to grow for 9 years admitting more boys into its programme at Prashanthi Nilaya, Ponnampet. However in 2000, with a change in management the new Trustees decided to end various service programme including TREP. Bobji LeVine, the Secretary of the Trust from 1991 when the programme first started and its active programme developer for 9 years, feeling sad that such a beneficial programme had stopped left Prashanthi Nilyam and settled in Bangalore starting a new charitable trust called “Sai Shankar Loving Lights Trust“. This new Trust continued to provide education and health care to the poor and needy along the lines and principles of his Guru, Sri Sadguru Sai Shankar (1967-1986).
After many of his former students visited the new Trust in Bangalore they strongly requested Bobji to re-start the TREP programme once again. What they had benefited by being part of TREP they wanted to share with other needy students, giving them also a chance for a balanced, value-based residential education. After much deliberation and planning it was decided in 2006 to restart the TREP programme.
This time People’s Trust in Bangalore was selected as the site for a new TREP programme. But unlike the original TREP programme which only gave benefit to boys, the programme in Bangalore opened the opportunity for young girls to also join TREP.
Surprisingly 86 candidates appeared on that Sunday in June 2006 to participate in the new TREP entrance exam, 30 girls and 56 boys. At the end of the day 30 youngsters were chosen, 10 girls and 20 boys to begin the new TREP programme at People’s Trust.
Over the years the TREP Programme has continued to be modified, improved and expanded. Each year now about 15 new students are given a chance at free value-based balanced education through TREP. The TREP programme maintains about 50 girl and boy students each year from 6th through 10th std.