What immense joy it brings when you get a phone call out of the blue from a former fellow just to give an update that she has secured the first rank in her Cycle Test I in her department (Information Technology) and stood second in the First Year batch in her college – having secured three cent percent scores in her subjects. What’s more to come!
Quizzed by her teaching faculty about her schooling, she was startled to hear them quip in surprise “You passed out from the Chennai Schools – meaning City’s Corporation School?!” And then they exclaimed in awe, “You have done absolutely brilliant”. The teenage girl adds, “The First rank student is from one of the best private schools in Chennai, hence the surprise”.
Well, what absolutely stirred this young girl to excel in her first giant leap when youngsters who enter the portals of college education would want to have the time of their lives. Maybe a short rewind would be helpful.
“I need to support my family, I cannot pursue my higher education” was the constant cry from the sixteen year old Miss. Harini D, when she graduated from one of the Corporation Schools, CGHSS MH Road, Perambur that caters to economically backward students in Chennai. She was a bright-eyed student whose zealous dreams started to fade away at the threshold of the final high school examinations held in March 2013 when the economic hardships faced by her family sunk in.
Living with her single parent (mother), a frequently ill aunt and two young school going nephews took a toll on young Harini’s education leading her to take up the responsibilities of a caretaker for her little nephews. Surrounded by a swirl of dejection and no support for her continuation of education, the only option left to her was to take up a job to support her family. Pursuing her higher education seemed far beyond realization due to the prevailing uncertainties. As she shouldered responsibilities while her friends studied 24×7 for their exams, her academic performance left her unnoticed in school.
On the brink of dropping out of school and leaving her dreams behind, she was given a ray of hope through continuous moral support, mentoring and follow up by the Avanti team. When she fared well at her Boards, she received a glimmer of hope – to dream her lost dream again but yet another hurdle loomed large, the funding of her college education.
Fortunately for Harini, at the appropriate time, 5 donors – Anantha, Nizar, Satheesh, Shravan and Vijay – stepped in to lend a generous hand, and she was able to join Information Technology in one of the city’s best engineering colleges, Jaya Engineering College.
It is still a long way to go before she completes her higher education but this positive start is music to one’s ears.
We thank Rotary Club of Madras East, Foundation for Vocational Training for funding and Corporation of Chennai (Education Department) for giving us this opportunity to help 150 students from Chennai Schools perform well in Boards and join good colleges and courses.