Kalam inspires street children to go to school

September 18th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) Twinkling eyes, toothy grins, a constant refrain of ‘Yes sir’ and the occasional jovial banter - this was the scene at a function at a movie theatre here Thursday to launch the “PVR Street to School” initiative that aims at helping street children to achieve and excel. Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam launched the initiative to formalize education for street children. Kalam, who is known to have a soft corner for children, conferred awards to child performers and inspired the little hearts of 750 street children to work hard and “reach for the stars”. He also reasserted the need for educating children - as they were the key to a truly developed nation.

“The children can not be branded as street children any longer. This programme instigates hope for less fortunate children. Knowledge brings with it the ability to imagine, which in turn brings in new thoughts. The circle continues when these new thoughts provoke new ideas and knowledge and that is what leads to a great nation,” Kalam maintained.

The former president, who has also authored thought provoking books like “Ignited Minds” and “Wings of Fire”, in his classic story-telling manner enchanted his young audience with an anecdote on Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi, who although a street child, evolved into a brilliant scientist and transformed the foundation of gene mutation.

The PVR programme offshoots from its corporate social responsibility programme “Childscape”, which aims at restoring dignity, providing for basic education and also nutritious meals for street children around the neighbourhoods of PVR cinemas in Delhi.

A group of children performed a musical play “Tum Kaun Ho” highlighting the need for education to foster ambition. The young participants proved to be extremely talented, depicting the hassled journey of street child who yearns to figure out what to become once he grows up.

Following this, a special screening of “Tahaan”, a recently released children’s film, turned out to be a great hit with the child audience.

“We firmly believe that as a corporate, we can truly improve the quality of life of children in the community we operate in,” Ajay Bijli, the chairman and managing director of PVR Ltd, told IANS of the project.

“We hope to draw attention to more public-private partnerships to support such efforts. We are going scale up this project,” he added.

“Children from various slums around PVR complexes once wandered the streets begging for a livelihood. This initiative, which will give them access to sponsored formal education, will enable the children grow up to be contributors to society and not beggars,” said project coordinator Deepa Menon.

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