Jai Hind

India Vision 2020

Unsung heroes - Suyam Charitable Trust 

"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 students.  

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.

Q: Uma, How long you are in the social service and what made you to work for the poor people?

Uma: 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.  

V Uma, Managing Trustee, Suyam Chairtable Trust

We used 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.

Muthuram, Trustee of Suyam Charitable Trust

Q:  When did you form the Trust and what are the activities you are doing through this Trust?

Muthuram :  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 organisations.  

Through 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 activities.  

We 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 need education.  

Students performing 'mime show' to the children

We  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.

A student-volunteer is taking classes to the corporation school children

Q:  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.  

We need 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.

Q:  How do you find the involvement of the present day students in such social works?

Uma :  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.   

Corporation school children learning meditation
I 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.  
A group of 'street children' studying in the school

Q:  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.  

Many 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.

Q:  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. 

Parents of the street children learning 'candle making' in the self help group
Pongal day celebrations on the platform with the parents and street children

Q:  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.  

Ms Uma and Mr Muthuram may be contacted through email suyam_awake@rediffmail.com