Tiruchirapalli

Begging, an anathema for children of Aadhiyan community

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The term ‘begging,’ which was a normal activity prior to the 2004 tsunami for children belonging to Aadhiyan (boom boom mattukarar) community, now carries a stigma.

After the hutments of people belonging to this nomadic community in Nagapattinam district were destroyed by the tsunami waves, families in the community had an even more strong reason to initiate children into begging at Velankanni, Nagore and other places of workshop.

But that was not to be. Vaanavil Trust that took into its fold children belonging to the community could gradually infuse in the minds of the children a sense of dignity and self-respect by enrolling them in a school it established for the purpose.

Initially 35 students were admitted in 2005 and the number increased to 80 by the end of the year. After the school building was constructed with support of WIPRO Care at Keezhakarayiruppu, the residential school was able to accommodate more students. Over the years, the student strength in the school has increased to 180, said R. Revathi, who thought it fit to settle down in Nagapattinam once and for all after the calamity to transform the minds of children belonging to the community.

Elsewhere in the district, Vanavil Trust also streamlined 300 neglected children into formal education system in government schools by conducting evening classes and by extending nutritional support, Ms. Revathy said.

‘Those who were enrolled early on and are now in remunerative jobs serve as a motivation for the subsequent batches of children for leading respectable life,’ Ms. Revathy said.

The students till retain their touch with the families but the fear of them getting weaned into begging again by elders does not remain any longer, she said.

The life of children in this school is not bereft of entertainment. Once a month, they are taken to beaches, which serves the purpose of shedding the fear of sea as well. Once in two months, the children are taken to a movie in the town.

Those among the former students who have progressed in life wish to give back to the society. The former students have been able to create a strong impact in the minds of the current learners, Ms. Revathy said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:22:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/begging-an-anathema-for-children-of-aadhiyan-community/article30397432.ece

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