For over 25 years, V. Ranganathan (72), a retired automobile engineer, cherished the dream of educating underprivileged young children in rural Tamil Nadu. But it was not until his retirement in 2002 that he could realise his dream, when he established the Vidyarambam Trust, a non-profit organisation which provides basic, free-of-charge education to poor and needy pre-primary and primary children. Since then the trust’s after-school learning centres have multiplied to 450, spread across 12 districts of Tamil Nadu.
Born into a large family of eight siblings, Ranganathan was deprived of collegiate education as his father died when he was 15, and he assumed responsibility of managing the family’s grocery store and agricultural property. Simultaneously, he signed up for a distance learning programme in economics of Bhagalpur University followed with a one-year diploma in automobile engineering from a private institute in Chennai. “The institute was very good and equipped me with the skills to set up an automobile service/repair workshop in Kumbakonam. Though I established a sound business, it couldn’t provide enough income to my family. So after six years I closed the workshop and signed up as a foreman in George Oakes, a Simpson Group company in Madurai,” recalls Ranganathan.
He got his first lucky break in 1970 as chief foreman in Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Mumbai. “L&T honed me into a good manager by sending me for training programmes across the country,” he gratefully acknowledges. While helping an agent in Mumbai in his spare time to recruit shop-floor workers for the Middle East, he sufficiently impressed the head of police in Qatar who invited him to work as foreman in his department. “It was a challenge to be in charge of 120 mechanics without knowing Arabic. So I enroled for Arabic classes in the evening and could read, write and speak the language within three months.” In the dawn of the new millennium he returned to India and registered the Vidyarambam Trust.
Today, the trust has grown to 450 centres, runs eight programmes and has provided supplementary education to 500,000 children, trained 4,500 teachers, and receives an annual grant of Rs.80 lakh from Mumbai-based NGO Pratham as well as donations from corporates and philanthropists aggregating Rs.20 lakh per year. In June 2008, the Vidyarambam Trust signed an agreement with the Rotary Club of Madras Central to fund and run a full-time K-V English medium school (affiliated with the Matriculation Board of Tamil Nadu), in Nagapattinam district for children who were orphaned during the tsunami of December 2006.
“Our aim is to provide rural children good primary education. I travel 20 days a month supervising the trust’s centres. Retirement has ushered in the busiest and best period of my life,” says this social activist, who even if belatedly, has made his dream come true.
Source: Education World Online, http://www.
While participating in India Giving Challenge 2009, Mr. Ranganathan and his team raised more than Rs. 11 lacs (and received more than Rs. 4 lacs in matching funds from GiveIndia) from the community which has benefited from the work. It was a way for the community to pay back in their small way towards the effort of Mr. Ranganathan and his team.
You can contribute to Vidyarambam, in one of the following ways:
Posted By Blogger to GiveIndia.org - Spreading a giving culture at 1/14/2011 09:32:00 AM