06 Feb 2023
| 05:26am IST
saligao: Several generations of Goan students who can boast of successful careers or flourishing businesses today, have Rudolf Schwartz to thank for their skills.
Schwartz and his wife Elfie came to Goa for the first time in 1990,
like many other tourists from Germany, and stayed in Baga for more than a month.
Though they enjoyed the sun, the sand and the sea, the couple was very disturbed by the sight of poor, underprivileged children who should have been in school, but were instead working, or simply unable to afford school. The idea of helping such children financially, so they could pursue their studies, took birth in their minds, and that is how the seed of the Indian Students Educational Aid Foundation (ISEAF) was planted.
Within a few years of their arrival in Goa, around 150 deserving students were selected from across the length and breadth of Goa by ISEAF every year, and they were given a scholarship by sponsors from abroad, who were brought on board by Schwartz. The sponsorship stopped only when the student completed his or her education, whatever it may be. But this avenue of help will unfortunately come to an end by the end of the year 2024. By then around 4,000 students will have been able to complete their education thanks to scholarships provided by him through the ISEAF.
Schwartz grew up in Germany during the second world war, and during his early childhood, he witnessed poverty and suffering, which was an immediate fallout of the war. The deep compassion, which is a big part of his nature, was a trait imbibed by watching his parents and grandparents feed the neighbour’s children and also poor war widows, even though they were far from wealthy themselves.
Apart from providing financial support to thousands of students to help them complete their studies, Schwartz has also seen to the welfare of scores of orphans who were suddenly left destitute.
He also took care of the medical expenses of many of the scholarship students whenever he came to know that they could not be met by the students’ family. Some accounts of all these good deeds can be found in his biography, which is authored by Jacob Mathew and Reena Borkar.
Apart from his work in the education sector, Schwartz was also instrumental in obtaining big donations for some charitable organizations such as ‘Sanjeevan’, a registered society for the empowerment of women in Bandora, Ponda, as well as for ‘Valentina’s Little Heaven’, which is an orphanage in Colva; and for ‘Atmavishwas’ in Tuem, Pernem, which is a school for special-needs children.
He started his first technical school – Bhumika Technical Institute - at Pernem in 1996, and the second one called Keerti Vidyalaya Technical Institute, Rai, Siolim, in 2000. As the demand for accessible education kept increasing, Schwartz established the Holy Cross Indo-German Techno Centre in Marna, Siolim, in 2014. The admission fees in these three institutes are kept low for the benefit of economically backward youth.
Till date, around 7,000 trainees have been empowered with skills that help them work as technicians in different firms in India and some of them even work abroad. Besides, a few of them own job-creating establishments and are self-employed.
Since ISEAF started the one-year Home Nursing course in their Institutes, hundreds of young men and women have qualified as home nurses and caregivers. In order to bridge the gap between the home nurse and patient, ISEAF also started a Nursing Bureau in this Technical Centre with their own trained nurses registered with it. They provide both male and female nurses and caregivers as well.
An open school was also started at this institute to provide an opportunity to students who
are unable to complete their school education for some reason or the other.
Recognised as the unassuming guardian angel of thousands of underprivileged youth whose lives may have turned out very differently, had it not been for him, Schwartz was felicitated at Keerti Vidyalaya Tech Institute, Siolim, in 2017, for having given 25 years of selfless service to the students of our country.
Schwartz was 44 when he first set out on his mission. He paid from his pocket for multiple trips to Goa, to follow up on his many charitable ventures. He convinced nearly 500 active sponsors from Germany, mostly judges, teachers and small businessmen, to collaborate with him.
His enthusiasm to help the underserved remains unabated even today, at the age of 76.
Rudolf Schwartz has come down to Goa after a three-year gap, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. He will be inaugurating the State-level Science and Environmental Exhibition which starts on February 10, at Keerti Vidyalaya Technical Institute, Siolim. Around 150 projects from various High Schools, Higher Secondary Schools and Government & Private Industrial Training Institutes will be displayed at the exhibition.