A group of young boys paves the way for societal change. K. Jeshi meets the members of Tirupur-based SEEDS
A teary-eyed young girl stares out of a poster. She holds an empty plate. The printed words scream: “Please don’t waste food….wrap it”. This is a food awareness campaign poster put up at a hotel in Tirupur.
R. Mohammed Ali, T. Merwin Wesley, and J. Palaniappan, a team of youngsters have jointly put up 4,000 such posters at hotels and shops in 17 cities, including Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Pollachi, Mettupalayam, Sathyamangalam, Dharmapuri, Tiruchengode, Thiruvarur, Mettur, Kallakurichi and Athoor.
“The results have been overwhelming,” says Mohammed. The students, who are doing their third year engineering at KSR College in Tiruchengode, formed SEEDS (Social Envisages Envoys to Develop Society), a registered society for social service, some months ago.
Wrap and serve
“After seeing the posters, 20 members from these places volunteered to work with us. The poster is a reminder for people not to waste food. Though they pay for a meal in a hotel, people feel shy to pack the uneaten portion. The poster tells them to wrap it and give to poor children on the streets. Hotel owners say it is working,” says Mohammed, SEEDS president.
He says people often tend to forget issues that affect society. “We want to remind them regularly through our activities. For example, electricity conservation. Many still use bulbs that consume more power. By shifting to LED, we could easily save about 2,000 megawatts of electricity in the State. Are they aware?” he asks.
They approached 20 schools in Mettupalayam, Erode and Tirupur, asked students to come up with 15 suggestions to conserve electricity and kick-started the awareness drive. During Deepavali, they went door-to-door and distributed 5,000 pamphlets on how crackers pollute the environment, Nature and every tiny living organism.
SEEDS has over 100 volunteers in 17 cities, mostly students, who take up a cause and create awareness about it in their locality. One representative heads the operations in a city. The second and fourth Saturdays are marked for social work. This is when they brainstorm, and exchange suggestions and feedback before starting any new activity. “We don’t approach the Government; instead we go to people. They have supported us. Though some people have thrown the pamphlets back on our faces, we take it on our stride.”
“We want to eradicate poverty,” says J. Palaniappan, secretary. “We got the idea to set up SEEDS at a eye pledging drive at a shopping mall in Coimbatore. We inaugurated our group and visited Anbu Illam, an orphanage school in Thirumuruganpoondi, near Tirupur, and donated notebooks worth Rs. 5,000. People spend so much on movie tickets and entertainment. We talk to school students on how the money can be used to buy food for the poor.”
The youngsters also counsel students, especially those in Classes XI and XII about setting goals and achieving them. “Our education is marks-driven. We tell the students to approach education differently. They stay in touch and seek regular guidance,” says Mohammed.
Palaniappan says that though students in Government schools are a talented lot, they don’t get the same opportunities as those studying in private schools. “We want to bridge the gap and help them showcase their abilities.”
SEEDS’ objective is to reach out to the underprivileged. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are 1.8 core people who live below the poverty line. No one seems to be bothered about the poor or the elderly. We want to keep reminding society about them, the members say.
All their pocket money goes into a corpus and they plan to adopt four children and sponsor their education. “I used to spend my pocket money on mobile recharge and snacks. Now, I save it to buy gifts for school children as we conduct a number of competitions for school students,” says Palaniappan.
Merwin Wesley, SEEDS vice-president, is from Pollachi. His objective is to motivate students to look beyond marks. “They focus on engineering and medical entrance exams. We tell them about creative courses in the arts stream and also share the details about scholarships available for higher studies.”
Another topic that has caught their attention is the ruthless cutting of trees in the name of development. There are plans to do something to increase the green cover. Other activities they have lined up include blood donation camps (thrice a year), bringing down the number of old age homes, and sponsoring education for the underprivileged.
“We also talk to students on topics such as how to get over stage fear and what it takes to be a leader. It makes us happy when they smile,” says Merwin.
Visit www.seedssocial.webs.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.