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Infusing sense of confidence among street children

Staff Reporter

NGO, which works with destitute children and women, starts community college

— PHOTO: S. Thanthoni

THE YEAR GONE BY: Minister for Animal Husbandry Geetha Jeevan (left) receiving the first copy of the Marialaya annual report from State vice-president of the Salesian Sisters, Sister Siriapushpam (centre). Director of the Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education Xavier Alphonse is in the picture.

CHENNAI: Seventeen years and still playing an important role. Though the Annual Day celebration of non governmental organisation Marialaya held on Thursday began with addresses by important people, the best part was saved for the last.

Former child labourers rehabilitated under the National Child Labour Project put up a street play depicting the plight of destitute children. Paper chains were used to show the burdens they faced in an unequal society.

At this event, the NGO, which works with thousands of street children and destitute women, was stepping into a new area of assistance with the inauguration of the Marialaya Community College.

State vice-president of the Salesian Sisters Sister Siriapushpam released the annual report to the dignitaries present.

Advocate Ezhil Caroline, in her presidential address, attributed what she was now to the help extended by

the sisters. “The sisters of Marialaya did not just sit inside their convents, instead they came out to help those in need and have dedicated their lives to those in need,” she said.

Director of the Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education Xavier Alphonse unveiled the new community college plaque and said the very purpose of the community colleges were to help the underprivileged.

“We start these colleges to provide such people an opportunity to create a beautiful life for themselves. We teach them not just vocational skills but also life skills. We teach them to face challenges. The education provided combines these two factors to help them become stronger individuals,” he said.

The community college would provide four months of vocational training and two months of on-the-job practical training. According to Dr. Xavier, 90 per cent of those who have studied in community colleges have successfully received diplomas and are now employed and in turn helping their families. “Street children should not feel like they have lost their lives, they still have a chance if they get a proper education. Poverty should not be an obstacle to dreams,” he said.

Minister for Animal Husbandry Geetha Jeevan said organisations such as Marialaya supported and rehabilitated many children and destitute women. She also said that on behalf of the government she lent support for their work.

Several children who had helped to bring about a change in their communities were presented with awards and the celebration ended with dances by children from the Marialaya homes.

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