OLIRUM MUHANGAL (RADIANT FACES) – VIDIYAL ALUMNI
We take pride in our alumni which is called Olirum Muhangal (Radiant faces). They are vibrant in reaching out to people who are in need and they do organize a programme for the present children every year. They bring ripple effect in our communities and stand out in their professions. It has been a wish to form an alumni forum for our children who passed through Vidiyal. In 2010 few of the alumni including Chandran, Kalidoss, Mariappan, Ramkumar, Ramachandran, Kalimuthu and Thangapandi took effort and founded the Olirum Muhangal. These young adults gathered at Vidiyal on the 6th June 2010 and the air was filled with joy and sharing of happy memories of the past. The launching of the alumni was done in the evening in a public meeting at Victoria Edward hall, Madurai. It was followed by a graduation ceremony in which 32 first generation Vidiyal degree/diploma holders were honoured on the stage. The parents and community members watched it with awesome.
The Olirum Muhangal engaged in a wide range of occupations and there are technicians, social work professionals, craftsmen, managers, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, clerical assistants, lecturers and staff in corporate houses.
On the 17th February 2013, the Melavasal community was filled with emotions and fine feelings as they watched their children having taken over the centre stage of a grand celebration titled as “OUR IDENTITY AS OLIRUM MUHANGAL”. The logo of the alumni association was released on this occasion along with a documentary film which captured the mind blowing thoughts of these young aspirants. Thanks to Mr.Muthukumar alumna, who is so skilled in photo shop and computer graphics did the shoot and editing. The community watched the documentary with amaze and participated in an oath to ensure 100% schooling in all our communities.
The 2nd graduation ceremony was jointly organized by Vidiyal and Olirum Muhangal on the 16th January 2014, right inside the heart of Melavasal slum in which Vidiyal was founded some 20 years ago. The community witnessed the ceremony with awesome and felt proud about the success made by their children. An elderly lady came in tears and said “we were in chains of illiteracy and bondage and used our thumb impressions (kainattu in Tamil) for not being able to put our signature on any documents. Vidiyal has enabled our children to break the chains of slavery and illiteracy.”
This time 17 children received their graduation awards for their achievement in various fields including, Teaching, Nursing, Social Work, Economics, Religion and Philosophy, History, English, Rural Development Science, Political Science, Physics, Botany, Road Transport, Business Administration and Business Accounts and Computer Animation. Our alumni Kalidoss, Ramkumar, Mariappan, Chandran, Muthuganesh, V.Muthukumar, Ramachandran and Kalimuthu form the core team anchored the entire programme which brought stunning impact in the community. The most important thing is that the community felt that this is their achievement too. The success didn’t come easy in the hands of these graduates. Having utilized the opportunities provided at Vidiyal they broke several barriers like the caste ( a social hierarchy which is worse than racism), poverty, social exclusion and slavery.
When we started Vidiyal there was not a single graduate in the community and most of the children would dropout from school at 8th or 9th standard. Through our Child Resource Centres we strategized to break this with a rights based approach. The community also stood with us and the children responded so well to the unconditional love that we showed up on them. Even today the entire focus of our work is ‘social inclusion’ and ‘self esteem building’ which enables the children to set their goal and empower them to achieve the goal.
Right now the Olirum Muhangal has about 40 members and has a clear plan to include more in the near future. They are also in the process of registering the alumni association under the Societies Registration Act in January 2015. The core team got together on the 8th and 9th of November 2014 and put some serious thoughts in designing the vision, mission, objectives, structure, strategies and action plan for the association. It was great watching them working on this and listening to their dreams for the community. We are thrilled with their determination and commitment. We are confident that they would achieve their dreams and they are our hope for the future of Vidiyal as this definitely becomes part of their dreams too.
We are proud that the first seed for Vidiyal was planted in 1993 in Melavasal community which has now grown into a big banyan tree with so many areal roots – The Olirum Muhangal.