My maternal grandfather and my father have taught me, by their own example, that the best help – financial or otherwise – one can do to others, is by enabling deserving people to have a good education. Both of them, all through their lives, have helped many deserving children to get a good education, often by giving them a place to stay in their homes. All the beneficiaries eventually succeeded in their lives, and brought education and prosperity to their families and even extended families. I have tried to follow my elders’ footsteps all my life, mostly in an irregular manner, triggered by opportunities that come to me out of the blue, through referrals. Most of the time I was not able to verify the genuineness of the requests, and I could not get regular feedback on the recipients’ academic performances.
When, a few years ago, my classmate and friend Meera talked to me about Vidyadhan, its vision and goals, I was very excited. Meera invited me to attend a function, in which a few students talked about how they benefited from Vidyadhan. Meera gave a presentation of its activities and future goals, and Mrs. Kumari Shibulal gave a talk on the history of Vidyadhan, what motivated them to start this movement and how they grew it to this level. After that experience, I didn’t have to think much to take the decision of becoming a sponsor.
There are a few key features of Vidyadhan that attracted me to it:
- The entire money of the sponsor goes directly to the student; no administrative costs are taken from it. All the expenses are borne by Mr. Shibulal’s trust. I have not seen this in any other NGO that I have interacted with so far.
- Vidyadhan heavily discourages the sponsors from giving more money than what is needed for the tuition fees.
- Vidyadhan team and its partners put in a lot of effort to shortlist, interview, do house visits and come up with a final list of deserving candidates.
- The students’ academic performances are monitored regularly and the students will stop receiving assistance if their academic performances fall below an acceptable level (Meera says, and I believe her fully, that such incidents are almost nil).
- Vidyadhan’s Web portal, that gives regular updates about the student and his/her performance.
Vidyadhan thus brought a professional, transparent and well-managed platform for me to help poor and deserving students to achieve a good education. During the last 3 years, I have been able to help a few students within my limited abilities. Vidyadhan team has been very responsive and helpful all through my interactions. In short, this association has given me a great sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. How I wish my grandfather and father were alive today and were part of this movement!
I have heard a few of the beneficiaries talk about the family background in which they grew up and how Vidyadhan helped them to face those adversities. I am sure each and every one of them has undergone various types of difficulties and it is unfair to compare one against another in terms of severity. All of them have shown a high amount of resilience and perseverance to reach where they are today. Still, two students have impacted my perspective of this very life, in a very positive way. One girl talked about how her single mother – abused and thrown out of the home by husband’s family – came to the city with two children from their village and struggled beyond imagination, doing menial jobs, just to give them food and education. Another student, again from a poor background, is crippled because of exposure to harmful pesticides that farmers applied indiscriminately in a particular region in South India. He is fighting all these adversities to excel in his studies. I keep sharing these stories with my family, especially my daughter. I am convinced that, rather than these kids, my family and I are the real, ultimate beneficiaries of Vidyadhan. I hope Vidyadhan will continue to touch thousands of lives and God will help me to keep my association with Vidyadhan permanent.
– Narayanan Bhattathiripad