Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sanjay Shetty runs the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon for Gurukulam Children

On 22nd November, I am running the Philadelphia Marathon once again for Trust Children.  The last time I ran in 2010, many of you generously supported the cause; few of you continued your generosity every year since then.

In the last few years, I have run more than 20 marathons (Half and Full) in many countries  (USA, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Macau, & India).  But running for Trust Children has always been a satisfying, fulfilling and rewarding.

I strongly believe that each and every child has the right to pursue a life filled with happiness. While education is a critical tool in this life long pursuit, not all children are privileged to get it. Trust Children, with its FREE education, offers this opportunity to underprivileged kids. The Trust has worked hard for many years to bring happiness to over a hundred children and it continues to alter life at an early age in a meaningful way.

Being an investment advisor, I believe that Trust Children is an efficient channel for privileged donors to support this cause. Since all administrative costs are borne by Trust Children Trustees and Committee Members, every penny of your contribution reaches the Gurukulam children directly. This makes Trust Children an ideal medium for me to give and help. And I invite you to join me and the hard working team at Trust Children to take this forward.

I am reaching out to invite you all to join me in this worthy cause.

For Donors in the United States: Please CLICK HERE to donate to Trust Children via Gurukulam, Inc, a registered non-profit in the United States. Donations to Gurukulam Inc are tax exempt as per section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 100% of the funds received by Gurukulam Inc in the US is transferred to Trust Children, India.

For Donors in India: Please CLICK HERE to donate to Trust Children, India. All donations to Trust Children are Tax Exempt under 80G of IT Act.

Thank you for your support!!!

Best Wishes,
Sanjay Shetty

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Beginning...

The Beginning...

Why were we born?

What is the meaning of this life?

Is this real?

Is there some "magic key" that will stop death? :-)

....these and similar questions were my companions as I grew up. And I am sure, these questions are familiar to all of us.... and it has been a rich spiritual quest so far trying to find the answers!, but that is another story. However, it formed the background that brought in “Trust Children”.

In India, where I grew up, I saw old men, bent with age, and still carrying heavy loads, working hard in the hot sun just to eke out a living. 

I saw children in tattered clothes walking barefoot in the hot sun.... what future did these children have?

I saw corrupt officials, who could have done so much and yet had so little to give to the world!

What could "I" do? 

These thoughts were the beginning of "Trust Children" and the school "Gurukulam". 

Right Education - I felt - was the "equal platform" that we need to give all children. This is one powerful tool that a child born in a poor family could use to overcome his/her poverty. 

Right Education - I felt - needed us to educate the child in the "do's" and "dont's” of life, apart from a sound academic curriculum. The child needs to also learn the right expression of one's feelings like jealousy, anger, love etc., 

Right Education - I felt - needed to give the child the inner and outer strength to live by the right percepts that were being taught.

Education also needed to be in the English medium, so that the child could pursue higher education. And we need to support the child until he or she finishes a professional course or a vocational course. This would be the "equal platform" from where the child can hope to succeed in this world. 

June 2004

At this point in life, I had been teaching Karate, a martial art that I was passionate about, to a group of fishermen at Panayur. They ranged from 4 year olds to 45 year old. The majority of them were in their early 20s and were to play a major role in the Tsunami relief work later that year. The families in the Panayur kuppam were easy going and warm. I enjoyed visiting their homes.

After a class in Karate, I gathered all my students and told them about the free school that I was going to start and sent them to inform the families that needed help to come home the next morning. The next morning saw a huge line of parents and 4 year olds queing outside! I took in a batch of 34 students for LKG and UKG and “Gurukulam” was born!

Mrs June, was our first teacher. The children adored her and she gave them love and discipline in equal measure. Mrs Kadar Bee was our first “student caretaker”.

The first day at school saw 33 children, teachers Mrs June and Mrs Jeraine, 2 student caretakers along with some of my karate students who had pitched in to help, in a rented 3 room apartment.

The first day also brought in a very touching scene that is etched in my memory forever! We had decided to give a glass of milk and cookies to all the children around mid morning. I had expected a good bit of disorder with the children running around and the adults trying to feed them. But, I saw pin drop silence, each child reaching out for his/her glass of milk with both hands and carefully placing it on the desk. Dipping in their cookies in the milk every child ate his wet cookie with complete concentration and drank the last drop of milk! I was so touched! I vowed that I would do all that I could to bring in right education to children like them.

The first few days were games and rhymes until the children settled in! My team of volunteers from the karate class continued to spend their time helping the children settle in. Selvam - who later restarted his studies, supported by us, and is now an officer in the Merchant Navy, Ramesh and Ali - who now drive their own cars for hire, Saravanan – who learnt computers from us and turned out as our first Admin Staff!

We still saw dozens of mothers coming to school in the mornings hoping for admissions. And we had to turn them away as we simply had no space. There was one mother who was persistent. She came every morning without fail with her daugther in hand and a big smile. I had to tell her every day that there were no drop outs and we had closed admissions. This continued every day until the child decided to take matters in her own hands! With a bigger smile than her mother, she ducked under me and ran straight to the first desk inside the class room! And that is how Dharini joined our school! She was our 34th student.

One of the children who joined us had Down’s syndrome. Mrs Anuradha Shankaran, Special Educator at Vidyasagar helped us care for her.

“Trust Children”was registered on the 29th July 2004 as a Public Charity Trust.

School and Natalie Cornish

Nattie as she was fondly called, came to Chennai to learn “Shorinji Kempo”, a martial art, from a close friend Sensei Maxwell. Australian by birth, a citizen of this world at heart, she was taking a sabbatical from teaching English in Japan. While visiting Gurukulam on her first day in Chennai, she felt a calling to stay and help set up the academics for the school.

Natalie Cornish stayed 3 months with us and has been part of the family ever since. Her dedication to teaching the students was literally amazing. Nothing could stop her from reaching the school at 0830am sharp and staying until the last student had left in the evening!

Sensei Maxwell and his team joined us on weekends so that Nattie could have her Shorinji Kempo lessons. My karate students joined in as well and it was a wonderful synergy of spirit.

Shorinji Kempo

Sensei Maxwell, alongwith Sensei Nagamani and 2 others started teaching our children Kempo. That was the beginning of the martial arts training that continues today as Karate under Sensei Murali. All of the Kempo teachers travelled from the other end of Chennai to help teach the children of Gurukulam!

Martial arts had given me a wealth of inner strength which I hope our children at Gurukulam will find useful as they grow into young adults.

Siri Gopal Kaur and Yoga Classes

Siri, from Germany, who runs her own yoga school in Germany, gave our children their first yoga class! KYM (Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram) came in to teach our children yoga thereafter and today our children have continued learning yoga under Sri Vajaravelu.

Sajitha, the artist

Sajitha, an artist who had won several awards came to know of our school and volunteered her time. The children spent many happy afternoons with crayons and water colours. Sajitha taught them to use their imagination rather than to draw conventionally. She later had an exhibition in Alliance France, Chennai, and dedicated a portion of the money she raised to Gurukulam. 

Medical checks

Dr Sheila screened all our children and did regular health check ups.

More memories of the first 6 months.....

Prayers before lunch..."Thank you God for the food we eat!"

Learning through fun

Nattie, June and Aneeta

Our children's drawings in their Kindergarten!

Siri's yoga classes

Mrs June and Kadar Bee with the children enjoying the first Deepavali

Sajitha's art classes

At Alliance France with Nattie, Anu, Trisha, Ramesh, Sajitha, Maxwell, Nagamani where Sajitha raised money through her painting

Mr K Ramaswami, founding Trustee with the children

Shorinji Kempo classes!

Learning to meditate after martial arts!

Of needs to see through closed eyes too, while meditating :)

Finishing a good session of Kempo!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Oral Hygiene with Madras Round Table 1

Madras Round Table 1 donated 4 tooth brushes and 4 pens to each of our children!

The children are encouraged to brush twice a day.

Our loving thanks to Madras Round Table 1 for making this happen!

Kite Flying Festival and Competition - Nov 7th 2015 @ Gurukulam

It was an unforgettable day filled with fun and friends! 

....The sun smiled at us, the winds were just right....and the people gathered - perfect! 

It was wonderful to see the grown ups team up with the children and making kites. The children loved it. And the kite that won the competition flew SO high that it was a hands down win for Rakesh of Class 10 and his team mate. It was literally in the clouds :) The KPMG team came a very close second. 

The "theme category" saw imaginative themes from "Global Warming", "If you believe in yourself - you can be a superhero too!" and "I love my school"....