Society

A run to fuel dreams

Ocean Awareness has organised a run in support of the fishing community. Funds will go towards the education of 30 children with academic potential

You can see them if you happen to walk by the Kasimedu fishing harbour late in the afternoon. Their black hair sun-bleached to a brown, clad in shorts and crinkled shirts, they hop about the docked boats running errands for the owners. These are dhees boys, a term for teenage boys who do small jobs such as scrubbing the boats’ hulls clean with soap oil for a token pay. Many of them are school drop-outs. “Some children from the fishing community discontinue their studies for want of just a few hundreds for their school fees,” says MD Dhayalan, president, Indian Fisherman Association.

He mentions examples of boys and girls whose parents are unable to afford ₹800. “Saving money for a rainy day is impossible for the fishing community,” he adds. “Through the year, they spend on nets, diesel, repair work... fishing as a profession is unpredictable. They usually earn just enough to make ends meet and sometimes even lesser,” says Dhayalan.

A run to fuel dreams

Paying their children’s school fees becomes even more of a task since the new term for the year starts when the State’s ban on fishing using mechanised boats is on. “This is when there is no money on their hands,” explains Dhayalan, adding that the Government can take the initiative to waive off school fees for struggling children from the community. “We do our bit through our educational trust every year,” he says.

Dhayalan knows how important education is. So do the youngsters of Royapuram-based team Ocean Awareness who carry out beach clean-ups and awareness drives on plastic pollution among fisherfolk. “Which is why this time, the yearly run we organise focusses on education,” says K Vinoth from the team. Funds from the event will go towards the education of 30 children from the fishing community.

A run to fuel dreams

“They are students with good academic potential, who are from less-privileged backgrounds,” adds Febin Francis John, who is also part of Ocean Awareness. They have tied up with a school in the area which is curating the list of potential candidates. Usually at their runs, Ocean Awareness uses the felicitation stage to talk about issues such as dangers of plastic at sea. “At this edition, we will talk about the importance of insurance for fishermen,” he explains.

Febin says that while those who work on the bigger trawler boats have insurance, small boat fishermen do not bother about it. “They have an attitude that ‘after I myself am gone, what good is the money to my family’,” he says, adding, “This should change. Hopefully, we can bring about some difference.”

The Ocean Marathon is on February 9. The 10-kilometre run starts off from St Peter’s Church grounds at 5.30 am. Runners will cover East Kalmandapam road, SN Chetty Street, and will return to the ground. Entry fee is ₹100 for students and ₹150 for general public. For details, call 9500096956/9500094616.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 8:41:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/a-run-to-fuel-dreams/article30751498.ece

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