Pudiyador was started in 2001 by Professor Narayanan, who chanced to meet Muthu, a 10-year-old working in a mechanic shop, after his car broke down while driving home late at night. Watching Muthu adeptly repair their car, inspired the professor and his son to think about thousands of children, who don’t have access to quality education.
Thus was born Pudiyador, to provide safe spaces for underprivileged children. Chiai Uraguchi, Programme Director, pointed out, “Most of them are from Tamil-medium schools, since they are more likely to come from underprivileged backgrounds, especially those left without supervision, as both the parents are employed. In the afterschool program, they get help with homework and are also taught basic Tamil and math. We use theatre forms like Kattaikkuttu to teach Tamil while simple games are used for math.
The teachers are also engaged from the community, which creates a connection with the children.” Weekends are reserved for performing arts and sports to instil selfconfidence in them. Colourful trees and fish adorn the walls of their Ramapuram Centre – the first one that was started in 2001. While giving a tour of the centre, Ruby Fatima, Programme Manager, proudly revealed that the murals were all done by the kids.
“According to their calibre, they’re divided into groups, so that the teacher can concentrate on kids who need extra care,” she said, adding that Pudiyador runs centres in Ramapuram, Besant Nagar and Saligrammam. Pudiyador also runs programmes for young adults in Ramapuram and Urur Kuppam.
“This is when they start creating an identity for themselves and becoming aware about their sexuality. We want to give them a healthy message about accepting themselves,” said Chiai, recalling how Ultimate Frisbee was used to create a dialogue on gender equality.
“Since Ultimate is a noncontact, mixed gender sport, we encourage the teen boys to bring their sisters. Initially, they are hesitant but once we make them understand how their sisters should be given equal opportunities, most boys bring their sisters. We have a long way to go but this is a start,” she smiled.