Article by Bhaskar Sompalli

It is not often that you get to see a group of family and friends turn a personal tragedy into a personal triumph of sorts. Two years after the terrible loss of their son, the couple Sivagami Ramaiah and Chockkalingam Karuppaiah and their friends unveiled the wraps on their latest creation; a non-profit organization called Vetrivel Foundation. The foundation is based on one simple principle; a good education is every child’s right and economic backwardness should not be a deterrent. Using the contributions from friends and family, and volunteers based in far-flung places like Australia and India, they have put together a sound group of projects, aiding over 150 children in Tamil Nadu. Their unique network of volunteers based in or known to the communities have helped identify organizations such as orphanages and schools for disabled children in small rural communities, which have a desperate need for funds and equipment.

On the 15th of October, 2011, the couple and a few of their volunteer-friends showed the progress they have made on the organization. It was impressive to see the rigorous timelines in which they pushed through the fundraising, identification of organizations and funding of the projects. Working on a string budget, and driven by a singular passion to help, this ragtag group of Samaritans has made a significant impact on the lives of the fortunate children. Their focus now is to expand the network of organizations they support, and to enlist more such volunteers. Their granular mode of functioning places enormous emphasis on local volunteers who can regularly monitor the progress at the schools they support. This was more for a call for volunteers to help with the groundwork, and to spread the word, than for funding.

The passion of the folks operating the organization, was quite evident in the innovative use of technology to make a quick and decisive impact. They have, for example, now sought to join forces with the exciting educational website “Khan Academy”, which has gone viral and has already revolutionized teaching in the nation’s schools. Vetrivel foundation has now embarked upon translating the content of the Khan Academy website to Tamil, to help make the best use of technology to help the children in the organization they serve. It is this grassroots approach, previously shown as being effective by other organizations like ASHA and AID, which will eventually make this a successful venture.

Given the goodwill the Vetrivel Foundation team has in the community and in India, there is little doubt that they will grow in strength and keep up the incredible progress they have already made.

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