Friday, November 15, 2013

The curious case of Samuel Venkatesan

I am pleased to share with you NalandaWay's story of the month.
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The curious case of Samuel Venkatesan

Dear Friend,

Four years ago, Samuel Venkatesan a.ka. Sam had been voted ‘Teenager of the year’ in a children’s daily in France. Formerly a child labourer in Soolagiri village in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, Sam had joined our ‘Achieve through Arts’ programme when he was in high school. Sam was an extremely bright boy and took an avid interest in the visual arts and film making. Through the course of the programme, he directed several short films on the issues affecting children in his village. Sam’s talent and candidness on social issues got the attention of a French journalist who wrote to me with an enquiry about him. The journalist’s story on Sam circulated widely across France and this bright kid swept the polls to emerge as the ‘Teenager of the Year’ in a children’s daily there.

Later, with the support of UNICEF, he even represented India at J-8 Summit in Rome to campaign for the cause of free education for children in the developing world. Sitting from the Mayor’s chair in Rome he appealed to the G8 leaders, “I want free and quality education for all children in developing countries, especially to girls and orphans.”

On finishing school, NalandaWay sponsored his education for a B.Sc. in Visual Communications at the Loyola College in Chennai. He also joined as an intern at a design house and continued supporting his mother back home.

Today, Sam continues his passion of making films about the perils that affect the society. By filing an RTI application, he discovered that water from a lake in his village had been illegally diverted for the granite industries. This diversion had been at the expense of the farmers, who were left without any water. Deciding to take up their cause, Sam made a well researched documentary film on the issue to build awareness about the crime among the villagers, MLAs and government officers.

When I called him up to inquire how he was doing, Sam passionately said, “I am fine sir, police stopped me from making a public screening of my film but I am now mobilizing the community against this cowardly act”

“Take care, Sam,” I said.

Today, I am worried about Sam. But equally proud of him too. His story just goes to show how a little faith in a child’s talent can work wonders. NalandaWay’s ‘Achieve through Arts’ initiative has helped many a Sam become creative, learn essential life-skills and build self-confidence to create lives they truly want to lead. Here. However, there are hundreds like him who still need your support.

Why don’t you make a small contribution today?  No amount is small.

So long,

Sriram V Ayer
Founder & CEO
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