Neighbours saw a hungry nine-year-old Abhirami crying at her mother’s day- old grave, demanding to be fed, and brought her to Sevalaya Home, in 1995(?). Post school, Sevalaya arranged for her higher studies in art and for her marriage. She teaches in Sevalaya now. Her story, in her own words.
I lost both my parents when I was in the IV Standard. I became more depressed and lost interest in studies. Then my aunt brought me to Sevalaya. It took me some time but I started liking the place.
The talent in me was identified by Sevalaya. I am good at singing, drawing, poetry writing and sports.
My English was very poor. My English Miss used to scold me in class but in the evenings, she would guide me. In the same way my Biology Miss also used to take care of me. If I did not have breakfast, she would give me biscuits and make me study. No school will teach their students like this. I got 903 marks in the public exam which was a great surprise for everyone.
This brought me more happiness, because the hard work that I put in got me the results. I used to stay up with my Physics Miss and study till 1 p.m.
My drawing skills also improved. Murali anna got framed a portrait of Vivekananda done by me and kept it in the library. He would acknowledge me as the artist, in front of guests. I would feel very happy.
I was eager to do Bachelor of Fine Arts. The fees was Rs 10,000 per year. With Murali anna’s support, I fulfilled that dream.
I am glad to be back in Sevalaya, now working as a Drawing teacher in the school and also a warden in the Girls hostel. I want to prove myself and give back to the organisation that has brought me to this stage.
M Yuvaraj, One of the Sevalaya’s Alumni cleared TNPSC group IV exams, scoring 256.5/300, and has been appointed as Junior Assistant, District educational office, Avadi.
Yuvaraj’s father Marimuthu is a farmer working for daily wages and his mother Murugammal a housewife. He has one younger sister Shamili.
Yuvaraj studied in Govt High School, Guruvoyal which was nearer to his house at Arikkambedu . Though Kasuva is 10 Kms away from his village , he joined Sevalaya as he was inspired by the higher standards of academics and discipline taught at Sevalaya.
He concentrated on his studies and scored 63% in XII. The constant attention and sincerity of teachers , special classes and innumerable programmes at Sevalaya helped to develop his confidence. He participated in quiz competitions and in one of these competitions he was among the toppers who were selected to visit an IT campus. This visit reinforced the value of education and the determination to do well in life. The life skill BGV classes played a big role in inculcating the importance of discipline and other values in life and this has played an important role in moulding him , he says.
As he was interested in Computers he joined BCA at Vel Tech college with sponsorship from Sevalaya. After graduation he worked with a few private companies but then decided to try for a secure government job. His hard work has fetched results but has also instilled the confidence that he can do better. He has started preparing for the Group II exams and wants to come up in life. His current job has ensured that his family is now securely placed with all basic needs being met without much trouble.
Sevalaya wishes this youngster all the best for his future endeavours.
M Mohan, One of Sevalaya\rquote s Alumni (2016 batch) has got placed as a Radiotherapy Technologist at Mangalore Institute of Oncology (Karnataka). Mohan’s father works in a brick kiln and his mother works as a tailor in an export company.
Mohan joined Sevalaya in 3rd grade. A good athlete, he has won many prizes in sports, including the overall championship. \ldblquote My teachers are the backbone of my success,\rdblquote he says. The first thing that comes to his mind when he remembers his school days is his class teacher who taught him Tamil. He was a good speaker and would motivate his class through his powerful thoughts.
The sound grounding in values he got at Sevalaya and the innumerable programmes when eminent chief guests would share highly motivating stories of their journey in life played a great role in his desire to do well in life. The interesting Biology classes created an interest to join a related area of work.
When he wanted to pursue B.Sc in Radiotherapy Technology, the family could not afford the college fees. He then approached Sevalaya to help him pursue higher studies. Sevalaya with the help of BNY Mellon sponsored his higher education. Today Mohan is happy at his new place of work and dreams of coming up in this career.
L Ranjith, A proud moment for our Alumni. Ranjith, a Sevalaya alumnus got placed at Frontier Life Line – Cherian Hospital as staff nurse yesterday. Inspired by the service activities of his school Sevalaya , helping the poor and needy, helped him choose nursing as a career to help others. Ranjith who comes from an underprivileged family joined Sevalaya in his 3rd grade and continued till 12th. When he wanted pursue higher studies,he could not afford the college fees. He then approached Sevalaya to help him continue his higher studies. Sevalaya readily stepped in to help and he joined his dream course B. Sc nursing. He says without Sevalaya’s assistance he could not have completed his degree since he comes from a poor family which would have found it very difficult to repay loans. He is a proud first generation graduate of his family. His sister also studied in Sevalaya from 1st to 12 th std. They are both proud of the fact that they are students of Sevalaya – NGO. Sevalaya wishes him all success in life.
G Hakshaya, one of Sevalaya’s, alumni cleared the TNPSC group IV exams, scoring 243/300 and has been appointed as a typist in the Directorate of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. But her journey does not end here as her dream from childhood was to become an IAS officer. She got the opportunity to attend a free IAS coaching class for about 15 days and this has given her an idea of the way forward. She is continuing her preparations and hopes to crack the exams next year. At present this job has come as a boon for COVID19 crisis affected her family severely. Her father who works as a welder in a private company had no job and her brother (an alumni of Sevalaya) who was working in a company also lost his job. A resident of Pakkam village she joined Sevalaya in her 6th grade. She was inspired by BGV, the value education taught at Sevalaya ,based on the philosophy of Bharathiyar ,Gandhiji and Swami Vivekananda . It gave her the confidence that she could do well in her life. Participating in inter-school competitions, speaking in front of the school during assembly sessions helped her overcome stage fear. She got a chance to meet and interact with the foreign volunteers at Sevalaya and converse with them in English . The evening and Sunday classes helped her score high marks. She joined PB Engineering College to study B.Tech. Sevalaya sponsored her higher education. She thanks all teachers who are the backbone of her success. “Sevalaya changed my life and I have no words to express my thanks to Sevalaya”.
The first Doctor from Sevalaya
Narmatha Inbaraj gained a medical degree from Davao Medical School Foundation Philippines in 2017, making her the first Sevalaya alumnus to become a doctor.
For Namratha, who completed her schooling at Sevalaya in 2012, this is no mean feat considering her underprivileged background. Her mother worked as a vegetable vendor but was always determined that her daughter would succeed as a doctor. Narmatha, though bright, could not secure a medical seat after completing XII and instead went to the Philippines to study medicine. Stepping out from a village background to a different country was intimidating. In the new environment, she could communicate only in English, which was a big challenge.
Says Narmada: “The exposure I got at Sevalaya and the participation in various extra-curricular activities helped me. Whenever I felt down, the words of Vivekananda, installed through the years in school, helped me to regain confidence and overcome all obstacles”.
Before starting her practical training, she volunteered to teach biology to students of the Higher Secondary classes at Sevalaya and share her experiences. After a year-long training period, she wants to serve as a doctor in Sevalaya’s Medical Centre.
G Kavitha, a Std XII student , was declared district champion with three golds \f1\endash in 200 Metre sprint, Long jump and Triple jump. Previously she had been interested in sports, but she never realized her potential untill the Sevalaya sports department and Physical Instructor spotted her talents. Subsequently, Sevalaya staff motivated Kavitha by encouraging her to follow a strict exercise regime, and showing her videos of famous Indian and International sports stars and their achievements. Kavitha\rquote s commitment to her training resulted in a succession of medals in 2016 – she won a medal for every event in which she competed. She was later declared the champion in her age category at the Sports Development Authority of Tamilnadu (SDAT) tournament in Thiruvallur. Now, Kavitha has set her eyes on a sub 24 second 200 metre race.
Apart from the training regimen of a minimum of two hours per day, Sevalaya provides her with nutritious food, and sports gear with spikes and jerseys. Coming from an underprivileged background has not limited Kavitha\rquote s success, thanks to the complete backing of her parents and support from the training staff at Sevalaya
Ashok Shankar was born in a poor agriculture coolie family in a village near Sevalaya. His parents didn\rquote t have the means to send him to school and educate him. Without the timely intervention of Sevalaya, Ashok would have ended up as a child labourer. However he took Std X and Std XII Board exams at Sevalaya School and scored very high marks. He achieved second position in the school in 12th grade, scoring 1098 out of 1200. His Maths teacher, who in spite of being sick, came to school and took classes so that his students didn\rquote t suffer, inspired Ashook to be a dedicated student and aim high – thus he scored 199 out of 200 in Maths. This impressive score enabled him to get a place in Anna University in the merit list to study electronics and communication engineering. Ashok was deeply moved by Swami Vivekananda\rquote s teachings and started reading more about him in Sevalaya\rquote s library. He understood the power of meditation and he says that helped him in developing a good memory.
He did well in Anna University, completing the course with good scores. He got his first job in Lionbridge technologies and started making small contributions to Sevalaya, while taking an active part in Alumni association. After a year, he got an offer from Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS). When he got his first salary, he donated the entire amount to Sevalaya. Part of his generous donation will support the education of children who are facing the same position he did. A inspiring instance of what goes around comes around.
Rare are people who come from impoverished families, yet manage to always find hope, gather strength, and overcome their difficult circumstances. In Sevalaya, we find many such children who have grown successfully and inspired others to do the same. One such person is R. Devi, a daughter of migrant construction labourers. Joining the police force has been her dream ever since childhood. Devi came to Sevalaya School in Std. III; she was a quiet, determined and a hard-working girl with a flair for mathematics. She passed class X with 80%, scoring 100 in Mathematics. Devi went on to choose bio maths and passed Std XII securing 77%. Through Sevalaya she gained a scholarship in Murugappa polytechnic college and completed her diploma in Computer Science. This helped her get a job in a leading BPO. Furthermore, having a great passion for sports, Ms Devi has won several prizes. She never gave up on her dream of becoming a police officer, in fact this ambition became stronger every day. She filled the required forms from the Central Reserve Police Force and vigorously practiced for the physical fitness tests. She took the tests in 2011, however was unable to attain a merit seat. But she never gave up. Persistently, she tried again and finally got through in 2013. Once a shy girl, who struggled with communication, Devi can now speak three languages, Tamil, English and Hindi.
P Manickam (Name changed)
As a child P Manickam (name changed) was brought to Swami Vivekananda Boys Home in May 2015, after being referred by District Child Protection Officer, M S Syed Rawoof. He enrolled in Sevalaya\rquote s Mahakavi Bharathiyar Community College, and was trained in A/C and refrigeration.
A Std IX drop-out and in conflict with law, P Manickam came from a broken home and his mother was the sole bread winner. When he came to Sevalaya he was an addict of paan and other tobacco products. It was difficult to handle his tantrums in the hostel, as he was finding it difficult to get rid of his habits. He would get into altercations with his room-mates, and his personality was very different from other boys. Care was taken to ensure that his habits did not spread to other boys staying in the hostel; the matrons in the hostel monitored his well-being throughout the day. Regular counselling was given to him by a professional at the hostel, which thankfully made a great impact in his life. Constant monitoring and mentoring worked wonders for P Manickam, who was then sent for a one month intern-ship in Control Engineering, Guindy. After completing his intern-ship he was placed in a public sector undertaking, where he is now a trainee service engineer.
Sevalaya has turned Manickam\rquote s life around for the better. We wish Manickam all the best in life.
V Tamilarasi approached Sevalaya for guidance in pursuing her career, after finishing her school final at Govt High school. Under guidance from Sevalaya, she joined the Computer course (MS Office, and desktop skills) at Sevalaya\rquote s community college. She was the first in her family to attend school.
After completing the short time course in November 2015, she went to an interview conducted by Cafe Coffee at Sevalaya campus. Instantly she was selected, and asked to report to Mylapore office, in the city, for training. After successfully completing her training, she was posted to Thirumazhisai (Bangalore Chennai highway). Her entire family was very happy. Sevalaya feels immensely proud of her success: despite being from a rural background, she has been able to secure a honourable career.
\~Radha, a girl from a poor family, studied in Sevalaya School from 6th to 12th. She also successfully completed the beautician course at Sevalaya\rquote s Community College. Now she has become a self-made entrepreneur, opening a beauty parlour in her village Kavanur. Meanwhile, her husband is engaged in agriculture, cultivating and selling jasmine flowers in the market every day. Radha\rquote s parlour was inaugurated by V Muralidharan on 10th February 2016. Radha and her husband were particularly grateful to Sevalaya for its supporting her throughout. Therefore they appreciated Mr V Muralidharan\rquote s blessing.
Mahalakshmi was admitted to Sevalaya by her distant relatives, after losing her parents at a very young age. At Sevalaya Mahalakshmi completed her higher secondary and Sevalaya supported her pursuit of a Diploma in Nursing in Gandhi Gram University. Sevalaya conducted the wedding of Mahalakshmi and Mr. Raja, son of Pichaimuthu and Veluthai of Karur District, in a beautiful traditional ceremony on 20/02/2011. A large number of donors and well wishers besides the residents of Sevalaya Homes were personally present and blessed the couple and their marriage.
Ilayaraaja is one of our success stories. His father passed away when he was very young, his mother sold peanuts in Thirunindravur railway station. Unable to educate him, his mother left Ilayaraja at Sevalaya when he was a small boy. Here, he completed his schooling successfully and went on to complete his higher studies in Computer Science with the help of Sevalaya. Today Ilayaraja is a globe-trotting software engineer in a leading IT firm abroad. After he expressed his eagerness to contribute back to the community which raised him, Ilayaraaja became one of the trustees. Whenever he is in India, he spends all his weekend with the children, thus providing a living role model for the Sevalaya children