Who would have imagined kids who used beg on the streets to sustain life are now studying in Aviation, Medicine and IIITs? Dhasarathan and Dhanraj were child labourers working in brick kilns. Presently, one of them is studying medicine in Crimea State University and the other studying Bachelors of Design course in IIIT Jabalpur. Not only them, but about 50 students from the below poverty line (BPL) category are successfully pursuing higher studies. Their dreams were made a reality by Dr Uma, MBA, Ph.D and her friends. They started the Suyam Charitable Trust and are currently helping 500+ children to receive a good education.
Uma and Muthuram
Twenty years ago, Uma and Muthuram were documenting the lives of street children in India when they came across 3-year-old Jayavel.His mother was an alcoholic. Everyday, he along with his three sisters and a brother, begged on roads for survival.
Uma and Muthuram wanted to help these children who are the future of our country. They established Suyam Charitable Trust to help them and took in Jayavel. He was the first student of Suyam Charitable Trust-established Siragu Montessori School in 2003. Jayavel has finished his schooling and is now at the near-completion of his graduation in aviation in Philippines.
No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank
Muthuram said ” We have mortgaged our properties to fund the higher education of our students and also few people have gave us interest free loans.”
Majority of us feel sorry when we see a child beg on the road, and few of us donate money and move on, but a very few of us want to change the lives of those children. At 12, Uma and Mathura started teaching mathematics to children who lived in slums. Apart from this, she used to volunteer at health camps for the elderly, blood donation camps and used to help accident victims.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All Campaigns
During her masters, Uma came across Mahalingam who used to work in a factory which makes bronze lamps. While cleaning a compressor, someone accidentally switched it on. Molten bronze gushed out of it and burnt Mahalingam’s face and entered his wind and food pipe. He was admitted to a government hospital, Tirunelveli where the doctors gave primary treatment and sent him away.
Uma came to know about him through one of his journalist friends who got her in touch with Mahalingam in Chennai. She admitted him to the RIGID hospital. Dr JS Raj Kumar, Chairman of RIGID Hospitals in Kilpauk, operated the boy for free. During his stay at the hospital, Uma helped him with his intermediate maths. Later, Mahalingam completed masters in economics, was reunited with his family, got married and is now a happy parent.
She, along with her friends, in 1999 established Suyam Charitable Trust. Initially, the trust accepted only child beggars, but later on, started taking child labourers too.
Creative And Innovative Curriculum
In Suyam school, Siragu, Montessori, innovative education is followed from LKG to the 12th standard.
Icono Write is one of the innovative methods where the children learn to write and remember spellings and concept in a quick and creative way. At Siragu school children are encouraged to learn and voice their opinions and ideas independently.
Now the school is implementing Theaters into their curriculum. Resource persons from Delhi and volunteers from Ahmedabad are supporting the school to bring “Theatre in Education”.
Building The School Boundary Wall With Discarded Bottles
Due to lack of funds, the school was unable to rebuild a broken wall. One of the students in the school asked why cannot they build the wall using waste plastic bottles. With Dr Uma’s encouragement and motivation, students built a sample wall with discarded plastic bottles. Later students, parents and volunteers collected discarded plastic bottles from marriage halls and hotels, washed them and filled them with sand and built the boundary wall of 47 feet in Rs.32,000, which previously budgeted at Rs.1,50,000.
“Now nine classroom walls are built using discarded water bottles. There is no electricity provided in the green hall. We are using translucent roofing sheets classrooms lit. Every classroom window grills depict various math and science models.” said Muthuram.
Uma herself is an educationist and a doctorate awardee who trains teachers regularly on innovative practices to handle the classrooms efficiently. Teachers are taken to various school visits where they learn from seasoned teachers.
Muthuram said “The teachers are exposed to various creative projects around the country. They are taken to all India tours and they visit various institutions and interact with experienced teachers and come back and try to implement those practices in their classrooms”.
Uma visits the classrooms regularly, interacts with the teachers and gives suggestions on how to handle difficult kids and topics.
It wasn’t an easy task for the duo to accomplish this. They have undergone many challenges to educate the children. The trust is paying the fees for most of the students who are studying graduation. Uma and Muthuram have undergone severe financial problems, finding the means to fund the higher education of the students. One of the donors also pledged his property to get a loan for two students’ MBBS education.
They also feel that the solution to the financial crunch is “Pay Back Model”, where the students who get help from the trust plough back the money to help other students in the trust.
Support Suyam for their dreams to come true and educate hundreds of kids who still wait at their door to get in. Be a volunteer, well wisher, a mentor. Timely support bring meaningful impact in the lives of hundreds of children.
You can get in touch with the organisation at : Mr. Muthuram 9840365819 or [email protected]
With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.
After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.
Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All Campaigns
Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.
Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.
“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.
Direct Monetary and Material Transfer
Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.
Information till 10th April 2020:
Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
Reached 17,700 families
Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.
In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.
This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.