Learn techniques in villages near Vandalur; donate wages to noble causes

Working in the weekends is a definite no-no for many. But for a group of engineering and MBA students in the city, weekends are for farming in the fields of Unamanchery and Alapakkam villages near Vandalur.

The students earn anywhere between Rs. 100 and Rs. 150 a day, for the back-breaking work, and they promptly donate it to noble causes.

In the few months they have been working the fields, the girls — B. Divyalaksmi, E. Jenifer Mercy, S. Preethi, G. Gowri and G. Suganya, from Sri Ramanujar Engineering College, Kolapakkam, Vandalur — have learnt to balance themselves in the slush, remove weeds and harvest paddy.

Suganya, who is doing her MBA, said her friends and she did not even know to tuck in their saris when they started off.

“Initially, we would hold hands to be able to stand firmly. After a few days, we learnt to balance. It is a great experience to work in the fields,” she said.

Farming has not only taught them another vocation but the whole experience has been a humbling one. “Farmers work so hard to bring food to our tables. Since our work is for a good cause, we don’t mind the strain,” said Preethi.

Jenifer Mercy said even though they will take up other vocations after their courses, they could always fall back on farming. “Some of us have farmlands in our native villages and agriculture can remain our mainstay,” she said.

The boys — S. Velmurti, R. Vishal, K. Ashfaque Ahmed, K. Sathiyamoorthy and E. Naveen Kumar — also from the same college, help to till the fields, drive the tractors and farm animals, and pack paddy in gunny bags after harvesting. Farming is nothing new for them, however.

Sathiyamoorthy hails from a family of farmers in Neyveli, and said only the harvesting technique was alien to him. “We are into cashew cultivation and are used to working from sunrise to sunset. After I complete my MBA, I want to take up agriculture,” he said.

The students are trained by farmers R. Babu and K. Kamaraj in whose fields they work. “It is nice to see students taking an active interest in farming. Only if the next generation comes forward, agriculture can be sustained,” said Kamaraj.

For its part, the college ensures the students are safely escorted to and from the fields. College administrative officer Leela Chezhian said food is kept aside for the students, in their hostels, when they return from the fields.

“We are accountable for the students while they are in college and hostel. We also help them identify the causes they can donate their earnings to,” she said.

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