“I want to become a doctor and build a hospital for my villagers. They are poor and unable to avail medical treatment,” says 14 year old R. Subhasini as she begins the conversation with us.
Her school mate, 15 year old P. Manikandan wants to become a scientist like Abdul Kalam and tells how the former president and missile man of India constantly extolled the youth to “dream your dreams to be an achiever.”
Like Subhasini and Manikandan, there are 700 others whose hearts are full of dreams and aspirations. They are currently studying at the Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School in Kadalur, Tamil Nadu. Poverty, hunger and natural disaster might have deprived them from a lot of things in life, but not their hopes, because they find their origin in a fishing hamlet in the southern tip of India.
At a cursory glance, Kadalur appears to be a miniscule dot on the Indian map located 83 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. In December 2004, the village was almost washed out by the tsunami. But then, like a phoenix, it rose out from the waves and left a new imprint on the sands.
After the 2004 tsunami wrecked coastal Tamil Nadu, volunteers at AIM for Seva almost stepped in immediately and provided the fishermen and their families at Kadalur food and temporary shelter, fishing boats, nets and engines.
As part of a larger rehabilitation effort in the region, AIM for Seva laid the foundation for an English medium co-educational school. The Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School in Kadalur opened doors in 2005.
Spread over 3 acres, the Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School began with 14 students and today the student enrollment has crossed the 700 mark. Students come in from Kadalur and 30 neighbouring villages. With classes from K to 11, the school boasts of 100% pass rate.
In addition to the regular academic curriculum, the school also conducts‘Art for Development’ and ‘Theatre for Development’ programmes. Such workshops help our students develop their communication and creative skills and help them blossom into confident individuals.
Thus, the Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School believes in all round development of its pupils. Our students have regularly participated in handball, kabadi and athletics at the zonal and district level in the recent past. Our boys as well as girls in the Junior (U14) category were placed first in the zonal level hand ball games held last year. In addition, the school is the centre for conducting the zonal sports meet this year (2018-19).
The Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School also has several clubs to enable students to hone their skills. These include the math club, science club and Tamil club to name a few. By being part of such clubs, our students develop critical life skills such as public speaking and through projects and experiments in the science and math club, our pupils get a much deeper and richer understanding into the world of numbers and the behaviour of the physical and natural world via observation.
Coming back to Subhasini, she is one of the girls who has completed her class 10 board examination from the institution with 94% marks. She has taken up the science stream in plus two, but it hasn’t been easy. “I had to convince my parents quite a bit to allow me to pursue higher education. But I always kept my end goal in mind, which made things easier and helped me stay on track. I want to give back and play an active role in continuing the mission of the school; to change our community and empower other boys and girls and most importantly, build a hospital in my village,” says Subhasini.
It is this endurance and perseverance of the students that has propelled AIM for Seva to expand the institution over the years. With the latest state of the art technology in education that include smart boards and well equipped laboratories, we like to give more to our eager learners. AIM for Seva is proposing a new three-storey building with 6 classrooms on each floor. The higher secondary classes will be located in this block.
Funds raised during our annual fundraiser in 2018 will be towards building infrastructure and educational facilities for our children studying in The Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation School in Kadalur, Tamil Nadu.