Senthil (40) stays with his wife Preethi (28), a homeopathic doctor, and a couple of other staff. There are no houses nearby as far …as the eyes could see and except for the stray lamp in the campus, it is dark all around.
As I prepare to lie down on a table that has been made into a bed, Senthil warns me about the odd twig that may fall on the thatched roof, and the howling sounds (of wild cats and owls) one might hear in the night.
One needs courage, determination, and plenty of devotion to stay in a place like this and work for the community.
The US $90,000 annual package that he was earning could not keep him bound in foreign shores, as he listened to his inner voice and decided to return to India to work in the villages, inspired by the lives of Gandhi, Vivekananda and Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Senthil’s main concern is to promote health, education, and create employment opportunities for the locals. Their education program is designed to help ‘slow learners’ in government schools in the area and deploy their teachers at schools where there are unfilled vacancies.
Their trained health workers visit homes of villagers and treat primary illnesses, and refer them to their base clinic or to doctors in nearby towns if the illness persists.
Preethi, who looks after the homeopathic clinic in the campus, says her vision is to ensure that people learn to take care of their own health, as also the health of their neighborhood.
Concerned about the malnourishment among children, Senthil introduced breakfast for children studying in primary classes of the local government school few years ago.
They are now providing calorie rich groundnut and millet candies to the children as part of their health program.
Recently, Senthil conducted a health survey in about 390 government and aided schools across Perambalur district in coordination with the district administration and other agencies.
The survey found that about 40 percent of the children (about 25,000) were malnourished. Taking note of the findings, the Tamil Nadu government has now announced a pilot scheme in the district to provide the malnourished children with groundnut and millet candies that would provide them with a supplementary diet of 500 calories daily.
Senthil has also been supplying 100 ml of milk to children from poor families for Rs. 2 since last two and half years.
“The poor cannot afford to buy half litre or one litre milk every day. Neither will any vendor be willing to sell 100 ml milk daily. So, we started the program and it has benefited about 60 children so far,”
Senthil’s IT Centre has trained the local youth in software development, data entry, photoshop editing and logo creation.
While 4 developers, each of whom hold a masters in computer applications take care of software development and get a monthly pay of around Rs.8000 – Rs.12, 000, the rest are paid on a daily basis.
There are ten computers in the centre. Timings are flexible, helping someone like Anbuselvi, a class 12 drop out, to do some data entry work, whenever she is not rearing goats.
At the bag making unit, 7 women work and earn monthly about Rs.3000 each. The creatively designed cloth bags are marketed at retail units in Madurai, Trichy and Bangalore.
In the Senthil’s farm, they cultivate paddy, black gram, ground nut, and sesame. But farming activity has been hit due to prevailing drought conditions here.
A popular seasonal activity that provides some income to many elderly women is their neem manure project. They buy neem seeds from the locals at the rate of about Rs.15 per kg.
The seeds are then crushed and sold as manure. Last year, they sold around 10 tonnes of neem manure to IIT Madras at about Rs.20 per kg. This initiative has helped to groom a young local entrepreneur who has been entrusted with the project.
We meet a lot of people and some people bring a positive wave in the lives of people around them. Senthil, with his initiative, has given hope to these poor rural childrens to dream big and opt for better careers.
God bless Him with strength.
He is My Hero heart emoticon