Our HoPE children are leading the way! Just read what our 6th grade Hero, Archana, did - immediately leaping into action, she identified Periyandi, a 100 year old blind widow living all by herself in a mud hut. Periyandi has no relatives to look after her, only a local neighbor who gives her the occasional meal - when she can spare it.
Being blind, Periyandi struggles to do anything without someone's help. Out of immense compassion, Archana was compelled to do something. She discovered that Periyandi enjoyed drinking tea, so, on her own, she started to bring tea every day to make Periyandi smile.
Still concerned with how Periyandi would eat, Archana ensured our HoPE champions started providing daily, vital food rations to give Periyandi much-needed strength and nourishment. She could have stopped there, but Archana wanted to make sure her critical needs were taken care of. So, every day she travels to a faraway well on Periyandi's behalf to fetch fresh water! This young girl's actions just blew us away!
On a recent HoPE Center career day, children dressed up in costumes and gave little talks about what they would like to be when they grow up. It was truly inspiring to hear about all of the future, doctors, teachers, engineers, etc.
Interestingly, Madhura dressed up as the Queen of Jhansi and said that she wants to destroy all evil in this world and teach women to be brave.
ARUNITHA is one of eight children in a family struggling to meet the basic needs of food and clothing. Her eldest sister committed suicide because her father was not able to pay the dowry which was demanded by her husband and in-laws prior to her wedding. Survival became priority over education for Arunitha. Her parents wanted their children to go to work. When Arunitha heard about the Sakkudi HoPE Learning Center in Madurai, she convinced her parents to let her continue her schooling.
In addition to formal education, the Phonemic Intelligence Program has filled her with courage to face the world. The practice of yoga and a healthy daily snack (boiled chickpeas, dates and fruits) provides her necessary physical strength. She feels her horizon has expanded with spoken English, access to good books and a computer, training in various arts (singing, dancing and drawing). She claims that the HoPE curriculum transformed her to be a performer. Her grades improved from below 50% to 98%.
Her face lights up when she is in the Centre with her friends. Unfortunately, most of her village peers do not have the same opportunities, and she feels for them. It was recently reported that she has been spending time teaching many working children what she has learned at the HoPE Center. We at Tripura Foundation are very proud of this amazing role model!
A HoPE Center is made up of students, like Jeevetha. She is from the village Puducherrymedu, which is north of Chennai and has 120 houses. It is very dry, so agriculture is entirely dependent on rains. Jeevetha is in 9th grade. Every day, she and 50 other children from her village used to walk 6 kilometers to school because there was no method of public transportation. Last January, when the District Collector visited a nearby town, she wrote a petition requesting a bus facility for her village, got signatures of friends and then submitted it. Needless to say, the Collector was impressed by her self-initiated leadership and immediately passed orders for a nearby transportation department to run busses during school hours. The entire village is proud of Jeevetha for taking initiative when so many others felt resigned to accepting conditions as they long had been. She is now a role model for youngsters and adults. She is a living example of what is possible when HoPE is in the mix. In upcoming months, Tripura Foundation will launch a program to encourage young people to take actions to help themselves and others as HoPE Champion Super Heroes.
Sarala came to Girlstown in 2005. Her single-income family of six relied solely on her father’s day-labourer income of 1000 Rupees per month (approximately $20 US). Chances of being freed from the cycle of poverty were slim.
At one of the first meetings, the girls were all asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Blank stares showed on their faces. The girls had simply never thought that there were different lives than what their mothers and fathers were living, or that their grandparents had lived.
Dr. Pillai’s Innovative Transformational Education Programs changed that. Sarala recognized the opportunity and quickly excelled in academics, computer science, sports, the arts and community service. Sarala and her sisters were frequent visitors at a local old age facility and soon became the darlings of the community.
In 2009, Sarala completed 12th grade and enrolled at a nearby technical college. Tripura Foundation financially supported continued education and encouraged her to remain living at Girlstown while going to college as “Akka” (big sister/ caretaker/ tutor) to her little sisters.
In 2012, she earned a BSc in Computer Sciences and recently wrote her entrance exam to attend the Masters program at a prestigious College in Chennai.
Like lotuses that rise from the mud, Sarala and her friends blossomed into strong, beaming, inspirational young women. It was the girls that called themselves “The Tripura Flowers”. A logo was designed that was set into a wristwatch to remind each girl who attended a heart-felt Farewell/Reunion in April, 2012 of the importance of their time spent at Girstown and not to waste a single minute of their lives.
Two HoPE Learning Centers in Madurai recently extended their service to parents (mostly mothers) with a new enterprise training program.
Sewing machines were donated to the Learning Centers to provide the women with a chance to learn sewing as a new skill. The goal is to provide confidence and support for the women, so they will be able to expand their career opportunities.
Founder of Tripura, Dr. Baskaran Pillai, has always endeavored to help under privileged girls in India to achieve a higher education and to overcome the social, physical and psychological barriers of poverty. In June 2005, with your help, Tripura Foundation, launched its first Girlstown Program. Forty-one sponsors agreed to support 50 girls. Sponsors traveled to Chennai, India to meet their sponsored children, and even performed a talent show for the girls which included a rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm replete with animal noises. Afterward the girls were taken to their new home, where they let loose with great excitement. Many had never seen such a large dwelling much less believed that they would ever live in one.
"My name is Pushparajan and I joined Boystown in Class 11. My father is a farm labourer and I had no expectations beyond becoming a labourer too. But I loved studying and my dream was to be an artist. I didn't see how I could stay in school beyond Class 10. For one, my family couldn't afford to educate me further and two, they expected me to start contributing to the expenses of home.
My uncle had heard about Boys Town and brought me here after I'd passed out of Class 10. I was admitted at once. I couldn't believe my good fortune in having a sponsor who would pay for my education, room and board. As a way of saying thank you, I painted some pictures and sent them to my sponsor. I've always painted but once I joined Boystown I found an appreciative audience for my work. Even villagers have asked me to paint pictures for their homes.
Today, I've completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Botany. I'm hoping I can make a living as an artist. I have options. I'm hoping to do a multimedia course and pursue jobs along that line."
"I heard about the sounds thanks to the PI teacher at the Juvenile Detention Center who wants us to get ahead and improve our lives. I have just begun using the techniques. I am practicing them in order to have a better life since once the mind is at peace everything else is in harmony and these things I'm learning from using the sounds. The times I've practiced I've felt as if my body is relaxing." Francisco J.V.M (age 17, juvenile detainee)
"I have recently begun practicing [the techniques] which has helped me clearly visualize myself in the future. I never had a long term goal, living only in the present without thinking much about the future. They have also helped me have emotional control where before I had lots of emotions (anger, hate, sadness, depression, etc.) which constantly affected me." J. Fernando G.M.(age 17, juvenile detainee)
When Ramkumar was admitted to Boystown his parents had no idea that his life would change so drastically. They knew that their son wanted to study. But with their combined earnings as daily labourers, they didn't see how they could fufill his dream. His father took a second job as an ice cream seller but his long hours under the punishing Madras sun still couldn't bring in the required money. Then someone told them about Boystown, a place where their son would be educated and cared for free of cost.
Ramkumar was admitted to Boystown when he was 13 years old and in Class 9. Today, this 18-year-old with a ready smile is pursuing a civil diploma at the C.N. Polytechnic in Vepery, Madras. He dreams of getting a good job as a construction site supervisor and his dedicated efforts should see his dream to fruition.
"When I was in my home, I studied in a bad family situtation. I scored the rank between 20 to 30, but now I score the rank between 1 to 3. This all happened by way of mindfulness techniques, Mind Sounds, and Grace Light. I was suffering a lot in my home. I am always happy nowadays. I learned discipline in Girlstown. If I have any doubt in my subject I can rectify it suddenly by the help of our miss (caretakers are also qualified teachers). I have a pen pal at California. I could not get opportunities like this in my home. Really I am a lucky girl, that's why I get the chance to study at Girlstown."
Suresh's mother is a maid servant who earns about Rs.6,000 ($120) a year. After her husband died, she struggled for years to raise Suresh and his two sisters (one of them mentally retarded) on her meagre earnings. When Suresh was 13 years old, his mother heard about Boystown where the only criteria for admission was that the boys had to be from the poorest of the poor. This, she decided, was her son's only hope for a good future.
Suresh was admitted to Boystown on January 4, 2002. Free from financial worries and in a secure home environment, Suresh is now a class topper and aims to complete his Bachelor's degree in Commerce. He wants a good job that will enable him to look after his mother and sisters.
"In my house I felt bored and with school education. I wouldn't help to any one in my family. I never took response in my studies. I always was fighting with my family members. My mother worried about me alot.
Now there are changes in my life. After entering the Girlstown , I take care in my education so that I got between the rank 1 to 5. I help to my sisters and friends according to their needs. I have a thought to ignore the word Poverty from the world. After that I feel my body and soul get positive energy. Due to that I am happy with peace of mind. I learned the meanings of love and affection in our Girlstown only. During the holidays I taught what I have learned to my family members and native friends. I ask them to ignore their bad life. I will do succes in my life."
"When our boys do well in life, then we feel we have achieved something. One of our boys now works for the National Agro Foundation, another is a computer engineer, another has set up his factory and manufactures sweet boxes. He now employs boys who pass out of Boystown! We are also happy that the surrounding villages hold us in high regard and that we have been able to help them by donating cows, holding medical camps and literacy programmes."
S. Simiyon is now 25 years old finishing up his M Phil, after completing his BA, MA, and BEd. His love is in Historical Studies and research and after graduating this summer he plans to get either a government officer position or maybe teach at a college level.
He has won 1st place in the district at a BA level in Tamil language, placed 3rd at a State level in Leadership Training, has spoken at a college for English, and has qualified for many international competitions.
He is the only one ever to be educated in his family line. He is also the first one of his native village to get a degree.
Simiyon came to Boystown at 12 years old. His father died leaving his mother with 3 children to raise on a coolie's wages. She is a day laborer taking on small house keeping jobs.
For 16 years now Simiyon has only been back to his village 1 or 2 days every year. He loves his family and his village, however he has no desire to holiday there as Boystown is his home. He considers Mr Kannan the administrator his father, and the other staff his family. Boystown changed his life. He has been provided with education and the other necessities and also built good character and a humane outlook by examples shown to him. Entering Boystown changed his life but he says that 10th standard, in 1999, was the real turning point. He failed his government exams. The staff at supporters of Boystown believed in him however and got him extra tutoring and gave moral support. He passed and the rest is history.
He will live at Boystown until he finishes his degrees. He works part time as a guide, mentor, and tutor for the younger boys. He will continue to support Boystown even when he is out in the world and his deep desire is to ‘pay it forward'. His dream is to help the poor people and give them the same opportunities that he has had.