Vanathi RM, who taught engineering courses to college students, founded the NGO ‘That’s My Child’ to give children from low-income families across the state an exposure to practical learning and tips to tackle tough topics
While the group’s activities initially remained gathering funds and supporting children from underprivileged backgrounds pay their school fees, Vanathi says she soon realised it wasn’t helping the kids enough.
“We understood that paying the fees alone wasn’t enough to encourage the children to attend school. That was when we started teaching kids Science, making it fun through experiments and practical learning. We also began English and Math classes for government school students over the weekends through volunteers (who are engineering students studying in Chennai and other cities),” she asserts.
Over the years, the organisation expanded its teaching programmes from Chennai to Coimbatore, Pollachi, Tiruvannamalai and Tirunelveli. It currently works with seven schools across the state. Besides that, the group also offers career counselling, scholarships for refugee kids, and opportunities to learn sports and arts. “We found in rural parts of Tiruvannamalai, the children don’t have any exposure to the world outside. So, we began training about 30 girl students from a government school in IT and equipped them with technical knowledge of computers. This opens up their world and helps them realise they can learn and work to make a difference,” she adds. The organisation has also worked in remote locations, wherein they worked with children whose parents worked in the circus and travelled across towns. “Our aim is to make these students continue their education. We are soon planning to expand our programmes to more schools across Tamil Nadu,” Vanathi remarks.