One of the things in life that gives Venkat Raman joy is seeing children's eyes light up when he gives them a box of coloured pencils. A Dubai-based entrepreneur, he has made it his mission to donate books, pencils and uniforms to underprivileged children in rural areas of Tamil Nadu in southern India. "It's just amazing to see the glee on children's faces when they get a box of crayons or a book or even a new pencil," he says. "And the best thing is that so highly do they value the books and the writing instruments that they cherish them and use them with great care.''
Raman was inspired by his friend CA Raghavan who dedicated his life to educating poor children free of charge. "I feel every man should give something of value back to society. Education, I believe is the greatest wealth one can have so two years ago I decided to do something for children's education," he says.
Every month he sends around 50kg of items such as uniforms, books, pencils and crayons to be distributed to poor students in schools in rural Tamil Nadu. He also encourages his wife Neela and children Krishna and Divya to do likewise. "My family supports this venture of mine wholeheartedly," he says.
Keen to take his crusade a step further, Raman decided to involve schools in his mission as well. He made a presentation to the authorities of Cambridge school, Dubai International Academy and Our Own English High School recently and issued a plea to students to donate to his cause. It was a huge success and he says, "I collected uniforms and other stationery items to distribute to children in India."
Raman, however, does not accept monetary donations.
"Donations should be in material form so that they can be given to the needful. Pencils and pens are what I like to give away. And the good thing is that they are eco-friendly as well."
Earlier this year, Raman decided to give a cow to a needy family on the condition they sell the milk to the nearest school at a subsidised rate. "This way the family can add to their income while the schoolkids can enjoy milk."
To learn more about his activities, visit www.education4all.info
By Sami Said Ali, a Dubai-based freelancer