AFEC collaborates with Sevalaya to provide vocational training to 57 youth who have aged out from care homes

AFEC collaborates with Sevalaya to provide vocational training to youth who have aged out from care

A Future for Every Child (AFEC), along with Sevalaya has provided vocational training and higher
education to 57 vulnerable youth who have aged out of care homes. These youth were given training in
various fields, including nursing, computer applications, diploma in AC refrigeration, bakery, tailoring as
well as degree courses.

At a function on Tuesday, the founders of AFEC, Gita Gopal and Madan Gopal visited the Sevalaya
premises in Kasuva Village, and felicitated the students who were enrolled in their program.

The AFEC team interacted with over 40 beneficiaries of their program. the beneficiaries shared their
success stories, and their pride at being able to find, and keep, employment after the skills training they

Speaking of her experience with the AFEC program, one of the beneficiaries, Bhuvaneswari said, “I
dropped out of school, and I never thought I’d find a job”. Instead, she enrolled in the beautician course
through the program, and now she is working for a beauty parlour in Chennai.

Emphasising the need to provide support for these youth who age out of care homes, Gita said, “Youth
that are too old for care homes (orphanages) are asked to leave without any kind of support. This makes
it difficult for them to become self-sufficient. Through our programme, we are hoping to give them a
chance for a good future.”

The partnership between Sevalaya and AFEC allows these youth to enrol in vocational training of their
choice, provides them with mentorship, and backing to find suitable employment.

Describing the program, Gita explained, “It is critical to provide youth with the training they want, which
takes into account their current education and interest. If you train only people with Class XII education,
or only high achievers, so many people fall through the cracks”.

This is why AFEC’s program is designed to meet the youth where they are, she explains. “Through our
program, we ensure that everyone enrolled has a chance to study what they want, and also takes into
account how soon they need to be employed,” she says, adding that they also have a special focus on

Problems faced by youth leaving care homes

Describing the problem faced by children who grow up in care homes, Mr. Muralidharan said, “Child
Care Institutions (CCI) can shelter children only up to the age of 18, after which they are considered
adults. By law, children over 18 cannot be retained in care homes, and are often left to fend for
themselves. We have been working with AFEC to address this problem.”

According to Government data, annually around 60,000 youth are forced to exit care homes at the age
of 18, with no further support provided to them. According to AFEC founder, Gita Gopal, the challenges
these youth face are invisible to most people.

Highlighting the issue, she said that surveys of youth exiting care homes indicated that around 40% of
those surveyed were school dropouts, around 38% could not afford their monthly living expenses, and
62% of them lived in slums. “The problem is more acute with the girls who leave care. Around 33% of
them were forced into arranged marriages, and only around a third of them knew how to look for a job,”
she said.

AFEC’s Partnership with Sevalaya

AFEC has been working with Sevalaya for the past two years to help provide training to at-risk youth.
The partnership has been spearheaded by a team of committed workers from Sevalaya, who have
ensured that the training is conducted in an organised and effective fashion. The goal of the partnership
is to provide training for over 100 people in the next couple of years.
Speaking about the program, Mr. Muralidharan said, “Through this partnership, these young adults
receive accommodation, food, and education. They receive this support until they can earn their living.”

About AFEC

AFEC is a US-based non-profit that was created to provide support and vocational training for vulnerable
youth who have to exit care homes on turning 18. These young people are given full financial support
for vocational training or higher education along with life skills training and mentoring for two years
after job placement. So far, across the country, AFEC has been working with their partner organisations
in India to provide training to over 800 youth in the last four years.

AFEC was started in 2018 by Gita and Madan Gopal. The couple adopted a baby girl from Pune in 1997.
Since then, they have been keenly interested in the life of children in care homes, as well as adopted
children. Through AFEC, they are looking to support the journey of orphaned and vulnerable youth to
adulthood. Their core area of focus is to prepare these institutionalised youth for adulthood through
skill training and mentorship.

About the founders

Gita Gopal: Gita has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and has over 20 years
experience managing research teams in the high tech industry. Gita, and her husband Madan, are proud
parents of two sons, and one adopted daughter.

Gita is Co-founder and President of A Future for Every Child.

Madan Gopal: Madan has served in senior technical leadership positions in the networking and software
industry for over 25 years. He co-founded “Sookasa,” a security startup in the cloud computing space.
Prior to that he was a Senior Director of Engineering at Cisco Systems. Madan has a Ph.D. in Computer
Science from University of Waterloo. He is passionate about using technology for good.

Madan is Co-founder and Director of A Future for Every Child.

About Sevalaya

Sevalaya is a charitable organization headquartered in Chennai and doing charitable activities in
Chennai, Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Chengelpet, Thanjavur, Tenkasi, Dharmapuri, Mayiladuthurai

districts in Tamilnadu and in Puducherry. Sevalaya runs free school, hospital, medical centres, mobile
medical services, community colleges, homes for destitute children and senior citizens, organic farming,
Gaushala, and many other services to rural youth, women, and animals.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, and Swami Vivekananda, Sevalaya the services of
Sevalaya are in 3 major areas- Education, Welfare of Children and elders, and Rural Development.
Sevalaya runs Mahakavi Bharathiyar Higher Secondary School, in its Kasuva centre in Thiruvallur District.
2100+ students receive a quality education, free of charge, in this school which is a TN Govt, recognised,
unaided school. Sevalaya also runs Homes for destitute children in the Thiruvallur district sheltering 200
poor boys and girls in separate Homes. Free Homes for destitute senior citizens are run by Sevalaya in 4
districts, sheltering 120+ elders.

Sevalaya also runs community colleges for women and youth in 8 locations, offering training in
vocational courses to those who are school dropouts or cannot continue Higher education for various
reasons. Sevalaya also helps them to get employment.

About the Founder

V Muralidharan, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Science, is the Founder and Managing trustee of

It was a poem of Mahakavi Bharathiyar that he read at the age of 11 that gave the inspiration to
dedication towards public service. The poem ‘Vellaithaamarai Poovinil Iruppaal’, wherein Bharathiyar
has exhorted that a real Saraswathi Pooja is to provide education to at least 1 poor child, laid the seed
for Sevalaya in the mind of Muralidharan. More inspiration was drawn from Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology
that “India lives in villages and can grow and prosper only if villages at grass root level grow and
prosper” and Swami Vivekananda’s school of thought that “God comes in the form of roti to a poor and
hungry man”.

Sevalaya took shape when Muralidharan finished his Engineering degree from the Indian Institute of
Science, Bangalore, and joined Tata Consultancy Services in 1988. His subsequent postgraduation in
Gandhian Thought from Madurai Kamaraj University has enabled deep avenues for richer growth of

The ambition of Muralidharan is to start a rural university absolutely free of charge to cater to the
dreams of higher education of meritorious poor and destitute children. Muralidharan has given up his
lucrative software career as of 31 March 2009, to dedicate his efforts full time to realise this dream.