Nearly 11 years ago, C. Vasantha Kumar started a small tuition centre to help a group of government school students to give back to society in some way what they gained. In the last decade, from setting up a computer class for students to running ‘oxygen autos’ for COVID-19 patients and providing skill training to women, Vasantha Kumar has transformed several lives through his organisation, Kadamai Education and Social Welfare Trust.
“When I grew up at Tondiarpet, my friends and I barely knew of anything other than the school. While we wanted to learn computer and know about opportunities available in the job market, we couldn’t equip ourselves and had no guidance,” he begins. After completing his diploma in electronics and under-graduation in history, he started running a firm to install and maintain mobile phone towers. While he was pretty happy with life, he realised that this wasn’t enough.
The first step
“In whatever little ways I could, I wanted to extend assistance to school children. Initially, my friends and I provided notebooks to children. Later, we understood that some children required more assistance to study and pass. Hence, we started a tuition centre for Class X students with 30 children. That year, 28 of our 30 students passed the final exams, and this inspired us to do more,” he says.
Subsequently, they also taught the basics of computer to these children. By 2017, they had close to 100 children in four batches receiving computer training. In the next few years, be it a full-fledged tuition centre or holding competitions to boost the confidence of students, the trust witnessed a host of activities. “In 2020, when the pandemic hit us, everything came to a grinding halt,” he says. After an initial lull, they decided to buck up. “Online tuition for students aside, we started giving masks and sanitiser for free. And, like hundreds of people, we also managed to distribute food and groceries,” he adds.
When the second wave struck and the demand for oxygen soared, they ran autorickshaws and motorcycles equipped with oxygen cylinders and transported close to 700 persons to hospitals, with the help of several volunteers.
Mr. Vasantha Kumar’s voice cracks as he recollects this incident that occurred in 2021. “We got a call from a young woman at Otteri, crying for help as her husband’s oxygen levels were dropping. We rushed and took him in the auto to the nearest government hospital. After he recovered, he and his wife were profusely crying and thanking us. Even today, they are in touch with us,” he recounts. He then extensively travelled around the State and created awareness of the need for COVID-19 vaccination. Today, he runs job fairs, provides skill training to women and conducts tailoring and embroidery classes. “When a woman earns, the whole family is taken care of. Now, we are doing these activities on a small scale, and if we get more support, we want to extend them to more people,” he adds.