Spreading a ray of hope
Brightness: ‘Velicham’ volunteers on an awareness tour in Nagapattinam.
NAGAPATTINAM: They could make great bedtime stories. But to reduce them into one would be a disservice to the battles behind each such story. Anandhi from Ariyalur would have ended up as a domestic worker in Dubai. But today, she owns a garment accessories store in Chennai. For some, it may be a lucky intervention, but for Anandhi and those of her ilk, it is human resilience tutored by ‘Velicham’.
‘Velicham’- the organisation that set out to “create an education movement for first-generation learners,” was born out of travails of people like Anandhi. Started in 2004 to bridge the gap between higher education aspirations of first generation learners and the financial aid required to fulfil them, Velicham has come a long way.
A chance meeting of 10 young graduates lugging sacks at Koyambedu in Chennai got D.Sherin, President, Velicham, to start the movement. “I went about asking some boys there and one after the other said they had completed graduation, but had no funds to pursue higher education that would fetch them jobs,” recollects Sherin. Their travails gave birth to the idea that she could mediate with banks and other sponsors, who could help a first-generation learner complete his or her higher education.
On Thursday, Velicham was on its 30-day tour through the state promoting its newly launched students helpline – 9698151515, aimed at guiding suicidal hearts to hope and a future. “Through our movement, we realised there were number of suicides among students. From failed love affairs to inability to pay college fees or complete education for want of bank loans – all of it snapped short young lives. So, we felt the necessity for a helpline.”
“There are so many organisations that help children gain elementary education, but none to help students with finance for higher education. To bridge the gap and mediate, we invite sponsors to pay the institutions directly on admission of the student.”
For this young woman, it was not easy battling the scorn of bankers or sleaze talk of strangers. But the struggle was worth it. Today, Velicham has to its credit among 400-odd students, who had completed their higher education with its support. They include 86 students with B.E and 11 with M.B.B.S degree.
The path traversed has not been easy but today the future chalked out for scores of young girls and boys has made the struggles worthwhile. For more details, contact Sherin by dialling 9500162127 or students’ helpline (9698151515) or visit to http://www.velicham.org. Queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org