CHENNAI: Alibasha is a great example of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words “Be the change that you wish to see.” Every evening, at this 49-year-old meat merchant’s tuition centre, several school children from disadvantaged families are taught for free, and given free meals as well.
A school dropout himself, Alibasha founded the Zenith Tuition Centre in Thiruvottiyur along with his friends 20 years ago, to improve the lives of underprivileged children in his area. “From my own savings, I hired some teachers back then. Subsequently, many students from my tuition centre passed class XII and returned to take classes on a part-time basis for free,” says Alibasha.
“About 60 students study here every year and some are even physically challenged.” What is unique about his tuition centre is that children who study here are also provided free dinner. South Indian dishes and even chicken biryani is served to children. Basha says that in Thiruvottiyur, where many working-class families live, children often face several challenges.
“Many fathers drink heavily while mothers go for household work. There is no one to care for the child. Many children only go to school for mid-may meals.” However, Basha has steadfastly ensured that children in his locality don’t miss out on invaluable study time in the evenings. “I run this tuition centre as a charity from the money I get from the meat export business.
Most of the teachers are young college students who teach for free,” points out Basha. “Food is vital and if we give that, students may naturally get the inclination to study,” Basha says, adding that he also takes children on tours and environmental awareness trips, thanks to a tie-up with activists.