Life hadn’t been easy to a young boy named Jayavel whose family was forced to become beggars in the busy streets in Chennai, India after their farming village experienced drought and seasons of crop failure in the 1980s.
They lived in the streets and had to beg from kindhearted strangers so they can have something to eat. While their usual begging spot was near a school, the family didn’t have money to send the kids there – they don’t even have money for food!
“We used to sleep on one such pavement. If it would rain, we would try to find other shelter in any nearby shop until the cops came and chased us out of there,” Jayavel recalled.
Jayavel didn’t really dream of having a bright future – and he certainly had very little chance of having one, considering their situation but his life soon changed when couple Uma and Muthuraman from Suyam Charitable Trust approached them for a documentary.
“My people actually didn’t like them. We even tried to hurt them as we had so many people approaching us under the pretext of helping. But they only used our name to get government funds,” he revealed.
But the couple persisted even if the beggars tried to hurt them. They saw something in Jayavel that made them want to help him more than the others. They took the street kid in and sent him to school.
“Everyone in the school knew about me and my family. As we used to live right on the corner of the school on the pavement but that didn’t make any difference to me. Though I hated to study in the beginning and only wished to play, my attitude changed as I began to see the difference in life of other people and mine and how Uma and Muthuraman were struggling to educate me,” Jayavel recalled.
When he did try to learn his lessons, he was so brilliant that he managed to push ahead of his classmates and get good grades. This encouraged more donations towards his education, something that would later lead to him getting help to study in Cambridge University in Cambridge, England!
How did the United Kingdom accept a beggar boy? Well, a wealthy donor gave a guarantee of Rs 1.6 million ($24,800) so he’ll be able to get a UK visa and have funds to study there.
Seeing Jayavel’s success, more street kids were encouraged to join the program – and more donors pitched in.
“Everything started with Jayavel. He started studying well and that inspired other kids. Now, they are pursuing their dreams; some of them are in aviation; some in engineering; some pursuing nursing and one has left to Philippines to study aircraft maintenance. The inspiration was Jayavel,” Muthuraman revealed.
The only sad thing in the story is that Jayavel’s mom Saroja and his siblings still live in the streets but the young man promised that he’s going to change their life and ensure that his family will have a better future when he’s finished with his studies.