John F Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” While perfectly embodying these wise words, Arunbalaji Selvaraj (a.k.a Pollachi Arunbalaji) knew that education is the only mighty weapon that he could give to strengthen his state and country. Despite working with an MNC, his heart aimed at empowering India by bridging the education gap in rural Tamil Nadu and other neighboring states.
With the everlasting commitment to provide education to the tribal community and ensure the welfare of the deprived students, he established Nalvazhikatti. Although it began small in 2007, the bigger vision of the organization made it grow in scope and geographical presence.
While Nalvazhikatti is acting as a guiding light for the right path, it is always figuring out a whole new way of approaching the education problem in India and implementing practical workshops and programs to help the deprived.
THE INCEPTION TO IGNITE A CHANGE
Founder/Managing Trustee Arunbalaji says, “The tribal community of more than 80 million people was dominated and pushed to work as slaves in the past. Although they typically live isolated from the nation’s culture, the government tries to bring these minority groups into the national mainstream. The authorities see education as an essential tool to help tribal peoples cope with national integration. Education has the power to ensure prosperity, success, and security in life; those deprived of it will face the consequences.
EDUCATION IS OUR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS; JOIN HANDS TOGETHER TO GIVE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
There are several crucial factors to consider for making education possible for these deprived children while preserving their distinct social, cultural, and political beliefs. One of the barriers is the Education System itself. Reports show that there is no scarcity of schools, other facilities, or scholarships but the tribal children find this unattractive due to biased relationships between teachers and students, the difference in culture and practices, language barriers, medium of instruction, and more. All these negative attitudes fostered in schools due to looks and social status make them under-confident and affect their career. In fact, tribal leadership is going through subversion by outside influences and agencies such as the police, the courts, and political parties.”
Speaking of the facts that promoted the establishment of Nalvazhikatti, he further added, “These needy students are supposed to be educated and trained to be leaders who are dedicated serve their own people. They should be capable of helping their people develop inner strength to combat exploitation and defend their rights. All the existing prejudice and the need for creating tribal leaders made me work for them and support their education.”
ROUGH SAIL FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Alongside Nalvazhikatti, Arunbalaji is working as a full-time corporate employee in a Bangalore-based IT firm. Apparently, managing work and ensuring his dream shines bright is not a cakewalk. The hardworking, dedicated, and passionate maven did not receive much support from society. Moreover, Arunbalaji and his team are still fighting hard to sustain charity and reduce drop-outs.
|Nalvazhikatti has been empowering tribal people with the guidance of the finest think tanks and social activities such as |
Nalvazhikatti Learning Center
Feed the hunger Project
Tribal Welfare Program (Malaivazh Makkal)
Vazhikattuthal (Career Guidance) Program for 10 and +2 students
Disaster Relief Social Work
Serving based on tribal request and need
“Apart from so many other usual hurdles, COVID-19 made the situation worse. Many tribal students are not able to attend classes. We have made umpteen efforts to purchase mobile phones, laptops, and TVs to help them learn online. With the support of other NGOs, we were able to serve across Tamil Nadu and provide food for families that struggled in hunger,” mentions Arunbalaji.