"Suyam has pioneered this school for children going
astray and I hope it will be forerunner of many more such
schools"- Thus wrote Mr P S Rammohan Rao, Governor of
Tamilnadu. The Governor of Tamilnadu on hearing
about the activities of 'Suyam Charitable Trust' through
one of his friends, made a surprise visit to the 'Siragu
Montessori School' run by the Trust during July 2003 and
wrote in the Visitors' Book. Had it been any other
organisation, the people behind the show would have made a
big publicity. But Uma and Muthuram, the founders of
this Trust chose to remain without publicity, but
continued their other activities silently as usual.
The Trust provides primary education to 60 'street
children', whose parents were using these children for
begging. The Trust is supported by more than 60 youth of
age group between 16 and 30 and many of them being
Uma (28) is a Post Graduate
in Maths, M B A, B Ed, M A In Hindi and presently a
research scholar in a City College. Mr Muthuram (28)
is a Manager in a private organisation. Publicity
shy Uma and Muthuram spoke to K. Srinivasan for this
website with great reluctance.
Uma, How long you are in the social service and what made
you to work for the poor people?
Muthuram and myself are childhood friends and we are
neighbours. Almost since 1987, we used to take
interest in educating the poor and drowntrodden people.
Even as a High School student, I used to take classes in
the corporation schools.
to invite all our school friends to go to a cinema
and ask them to get money for cinema
ticket. After the assembly of all friends, we
used to take them to some orphanage and get pencils and
books to the children out of the money meant for cinema
ticket. Though our friends used to get surprised,
they started taking lot of interest. Thus, we
motivated and involved hundreds of our friends.
When did you form the Trust and what are the activities
you are doing through this Trust?
: Though, we were doing the service informally, we
wanted to make a formal trust and we formed Suyam
Charitable Trust during 1999. Presently, we
have four Trustees. Uma is a research student in
Presidency College and all others are working in private
this Trust, we have started a montessori school to provide
primary education to the street children. We also
motive their parents to give up 'begging' and to take up
some job. We have formed a self help group to
these parents and we teach them various
provide training to the teachers also to handle such
children. We are having presently 60 such children
from 50 families. These children are the first generation
learners in their family. In Tamilnadu alone, we
estimate around fifty thousand such 'street children', who
conduct regular workshops frequently to the high school
and higher secondary students of corporation schools on
personality development, writing examinations, etc. We
also arrange 'blood donation camps' and organise blood for
the needy people.
Who are all the people involved in this project and how do
you get finance for such projects?
Uma : We
do not get any grants or assistance from Government or any
UN bodies. We motivate hundreds of students and our
friends to contribute small amounts and we pool them to
meet the expenditure.
around twenty thousand rupees every month to manage the
montessori school. Last month, I preclosed my
personal Fixed Deposit and used the money for the
Trust. I will take back the amount, when we get some
funds. We even provide scholarships to some children
and loans, out of the money we collect.
How do you find the involvement of the present day
students in such social works?
: Being a research student myself, I find that many
students take active role in the activities. Many of
them assist us in conducting workshops through teaching,
mime show, etc.
know five students from my own college work in the night
as 'coolies' in the market and contribute some
amount. Another group of more than 50 students traveling
by Bus No 2A have stopped singing 'Ghana songs', but
started singing 'social work awareness songs' and they
also motive other students and passengers to contribute
one or two rupees per day, towards this project. I can go
on telling many such incidents.
Do you find any challenge in convincing the 'street
children' to the schools?
Uma : The parents
use these children for begging purposes and to earn
money. Normally they live on 'platforms'. They
always face the problems from various authorities, who
treat them badly.
social workers come to them and take pictures and publish
in the newspapers, using them as a 'tool' for their self
publicity. These are all irritate these type of
people. They refuse to send their children for
education. We used to remove their fears and prove
our genuineness to convince them. We
used to celebrate important festivals with them on the
'platform' itself. We have opened the montessori
school in the area where they hail from. Now the
parents of these children are convinced and bring other
such children to us.
What is your long term ambition?
Uma: We want to
start the 'world's biggest family'. This would
accommodate more number of deserted people of all age
groups, but not related to each other. All the
inmates would create an ideal family atmosphere.
What is your message to the members of India Vision Club?
Uma : The
present day youth are interested in developing the
society. What they need is motivation.
We should not look at the Government for everything.
There are lot of things that we can do it ourselves to
develop our country in various areas by 2020.
and Mr Muthuram may be contacted through email firstname.lastname@example.org