Many young individuals find the time to do their bit for society
Twenty-Four year old Manivannan. C who works in the IT sector, visits three or four houses in his neighbourhood armed with nothing more than textbooks and a notion to help. He goes there to teach kids mathematics free of charge. He makes sure the kids do not fall behind in their studies. “Their parents are not that financially well-off to afford tuition,” he explains.
Manivanan is just one of the many young Coimbatoreans who are contributing their bit towards improving society. Such as T.R. Kumaran who took coaching classes for economically backward children free of charge at home while he worked in a professional coaching class set-up. Now, as he works in a service-sector company, does not have the time to spare. But he continues to discharge his social responsibility by bearing 25 per cent of the fees of a couple of college students who have approached him for help. “I know what my capacity is, and based on that, I give,” he says.
For those who may not be able to offer financial help, there is volunteer work. People are willing to give up their time for good causes. Antony Subin volunteers in an old age home in his vicinity. Apart from providing the inmates with soaps and shampoos, he also spends time with them during festivals and other holidays. Those are days, he feels, they get extra lonely. He also gets a lot out of him, he says. He finds the environment there peaceful and says, “Whenever I am sad, I go there because I find peace and enjoy talking to the old aunties and listening to their experiences.”
Niveditha, who works in the NGO Make a Difference in Coimbatore, started out as a volunteer. Make a Difference encourages young people to teach under-privileged children for three hours every week for at least a year. Niveditha spent time every weekend teaching Communicative English, which is taught through stories, poems and other interactive games to children from orphanages. The children are taught based on the Cambridge curriculum and are divided into groups based on their English speaking aptitude rather than on age. She volunteered her time because, “these children also deserve the same childhood that we had. And when I found an organisation which did that job, I thought I should join”.
Education, the key
“If education is set right, everything else will follow,” says Vinodh Akkalraj who has started Ohm Educational Trust, funded by him and his friends to support the education of academically excellent, but economically backward students. These students are chosen on the basis of their family background, their academic scores and their interest in pursuing higher studies. This information is given by the local government school where the students study. However, just education is not enough, believes Sylvia Edward, a Chartered Accountant. “I have come in contact with many single-parent families and their children who need time, inputs and counselling,” she says. Sylvia reaches out to kids who just need to talk at times. She hosts a meeting every week where teenagers come together just to vent their feelings about parents not trusting them, friendships not working out and peer pressure. “Teens just need someone to listen to them and that is what I like to do,” she says.
B. Vinoth Kumar, an accounting professional, believes that along with education character-building is equally important. He spends a couple of hours every day at a local government school imparting value education to middle school children. He teaches the kids about honesty, integrity, the value of family and hard work, all through stories. “Parents of these kids have no time to teach them such values; so, I want to bridge that gap,” he says.