CHENNAI:Anitha, an 18-year-old girl, boards a bus from Little Mount to Guru Nanak College every morning. She dreams of a bank job in a few years, with the B Com degree that she is currently pursuing. But a year ago, she would not have believed that pursuing a college education was even remotely possible.
“My father is an alcoholic and he stopped working two years ago, when he broke his arm. With no money to afford, I had given up on the idea of studying,” she recounts. But one phone call from her teacher after she had secured 1,133 in the Class 12 board exams, turned things around for not only Anitha but several students around the city who had otherwise abandoned the dream of higher education. These students had two things in common — a commendable percentage in their public exams and a monetary background that threatened to stifle their chances.
Thanks to Arco Iris Foundation, these children now have a future to look forward to. It all started two years ago when four friends gathered for their school alumni meet and decided to do something about a common cause of concern.
It was then the first sketches for Arco Iris Foundation were drawn. The Foundation has managed to offer scholarships to 105 underprivileged students (76 girls and 29 boys) last year alone, of which 47 were also visually challenged students. AIF had located these students from schools in slums around Chengalpattu, Nolambur, Chetpet, Little Mount and worked with headmasters and teachers to help them narrow down the students.
“Thanks to a WhatsApp message that went viral following the initial success, now there are over 1,000 requests from both schools and students,” says Vijayaraman, one of the founders. The aid comes from the founder’s pockets, volunteering individuals and musical fundraiser events. (AIF conducted a musical event at Kamaraj Arangam with notable singers like Mano, Karthik and Vijay Prakash). The organisation, which has financed the studies of students in many Arts and Science colleges around the city, is hoping to fund more students this academic year, with at least 15-16 engineering seats and at least one or two medical seats.
“We want to reach out to more students who might otherwise have to give up because they are either differently-abled, orphaned, raised by single parents and can’t afford it despite scoring good marks,” adds Vijayaraman.