US Tamils aid panchayat schools

Philadelphia is home to Liberty Bell, and the  National Constitution Center.  A Tom Hanks/Denzil Washington movie themed on AIDs was set in Philadelphia.  The city now has a Tamilnadu  connection as well , with the state’s education secretary making a trip to  sign  an MoU with US-based non-profit Tamilnadu Foundation (TNF) at their convention held in the city  during Memorial Day weekend.

TNF’s  Philadelphia, Delaware and South Jersey Chapters  and philonthropic Tamils from elsewhere in the US attended the convention. Organisers have decided to use the proceeds, by way of delegates  fee and donations, for  school education programme in Tamilnadu. TNF runs a pilot project in six panchayat schools of Madhurantakam taluk near Chennai. It entails providing for neat, well-equipped class-rooms and toilets ; focus on holistic development of children by enabling them to learn, apart from text-book lessons, yoga, arts & crafts, music and computer learning – the kind of things that make dropouts want to come back to school.

A 9-min. fund-raiser video – Kaveri’s  Kadai – speaks of two lakh Kaveris who are on the verge of giving up schooling  for various reasons –  such as parents migration to cities for emplyment ; economic compulsion that put children to work; burden of  household work on children, examination failure, lack of motivation from teachers, and access to schools. TNF has agreed to partner with the Tamilnadu government in addressing the  issue of school dropouts.

TNF was founded on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 29) 1974 by four NRI doctors at Baltimore, Maryland, under the presidentship of Dr. P.G.Periasamy. It  has since set up eight Chapters in the US, with a back-up office of 20 staffers in Chennai. It has a conference room, library with educational CDs, two classrooms and computer labs.  TNF has a membership of over 650 NRIs.  Many members commit funds to  projects taken up in  their native villages.

TNF website says Mr N Ponnuswamy of Pasadena CA has taken up building/upkeep of a village school library near Sivakasi (TN) at a cost of $ 7,500 to be spent over the next five years.  ‘Brightened Birthdays’ is a project that enables one to celebrate one’s  birthday with a monthly remittance of $20 (for a year) to help a girl at a  Seerkahzi orphanage. TNF members finance training of  handicapped residents of Madurai Cheshires Home in job skills such as composting, making handicraft products as well as farming ; meeting schooling expenses of children at an orphanage at Aruppukottai . Mr D Arumugam has offered higher education scholarship to two deserving students from his village ( Dalavaipet) in Erode district . TNF has a project to help the upkeep of the aged and the terminally ill in Eruvadi, Tirunelveli.

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