Daylight floods the narrow halls of the Seva Sadan Institute. Outside, a boy hunches over a metal sheet, trying to steady his grip. One of the many destitute boys at the institute who were made to drop out of school in their early teens, he has now found the means to survive by sharpening his technical skills. “The children who practice and learn these skills get recruited into major companies even before they finish their courses,” says Pius Kizhakkebhagam, the Local Superior who has been part of the Seva Sadan Institute since 1973.
Previously a film studio that was rumoured to be haunted, the 15-acre plot was sold to this Christian charitable organisation in 1967. It now houses two schools and colleges, and has a separate wing where school dropouts are taught various technical skills including carpentry, welding, printing and binding. “We have 1,200 students in the school now and receive over 500 applicants for the 100 seats we offer,” Brother Pius adds. The institution has come a long way since its inception, with 72 centres in India and branches in 9 countries, including Germany and Italy.
The Seva Sadan Institute initially started off as an orphanage. “We monitor them through the day, and like to help in their individual growth as well,” says Simon, the principal of the PU College at the institute. Brother Pius mirrors this sentiment and adds, “Yoga, gardening and other functional skills are part of their timetable.”
The institute has several students, all from different religious and social backgrounds. The students at the institute have several achievements that they are proud of. The schools and colleges have had very high pass percentages in the board exams in the past few years. “We are extremely proud of Shubham Kumar, a cadet who was conferred the President’s award at the Republic Day parade,” says Brother Simon.
Next on their agenda is to expand and to open a degree college, so that the existing students have more options to further their education.