Penned by Board Member Ms. Alo Pal

A continuation of the earlier blog. Click here to read the prologue.


Kanchana was 14 years old when her father passed away. She came under Sharana’s wing in her 9th standard and went on to complete her B.Sc. in Nursing brilliantly. She got many job offers in Pondicherry and finally accepted a posting at Apollo Chennai. The team was jubilant. Looking for better opportunities to grow professionally she applied for a job in Bangalore and in the meanwhile contacted Ms. Rajkala. She had heard that her father was indisposed and in need of nursing care and she expressed her wish to look after him. “I want to give back something for all that you have done for me” and so weeks rolled into months and Kanchana performed her duties as a nurse efficiently and with care. Then one day Ms. Rajkala got a call from her mother. Kanchana had not only secured the job she had applied for two weeks ago; she had the opportunity to fly to the Cayman Islands and work overseas. “Why didn’t she tell me!” Ms. Rajkala enquired. “She couldn’t get herself to do it, that is why I called”. Kanchana was of course immediately asked to grab this opportunity and today she’s pursuing a successful career with remittances sent to the family. But how to qualify her hesitation in announcing to Ms. Rajkala the news? Gratitude is the rarest of virtues and there could not be a more graceful example of that rarity than this hesitation.

Kanchana’s education, as in the case of her brother, was supported by an educational loan. It is a departure from our sponsorship model but not only is it interest-free but also without a time limit or schedule set for the return. Well established she is now prepared to pay back the loan. But how to qualify the beautiful human being she had grown into?

Her Brother Kalaiarasan completed his B. Com CS (Corporate Secretary) course in 2016. Sharana and Mr. Ravianand (program manager) have been his support system since the passing of his father. Mr. Ravianand not only persuaded a reluctant principal of the college that accorded this specialized degree to admit Kalaiarasan, but Kalaiarasan lived up to Mr. Ravianand’s word to the principal and did not indulge in the ruckus at college, children from his school were known for. He fared well without needing any additional assistance and even played volleyball for his college team in inter-college tournaments. After his studies, the economic condition of his family forced him to accept a job that was not at all in alignment with his qualifications, but not one to give up he landed a job with Reliance Insurance as an associate sales manager a year later and finally had scope in his domain. It is at this point that he realized the need for an MBA, he enrolled himself in a distance education MBA in Marketing that he self-financed. He is now in his second year.

It has been six months since he has taken up the position of a Bank Associate Manager with IFFCO Tokio General Insurance. He now heads a team of 8 members. Not only is this a leap in portfolio and opportunity but also a generous leap in renumeration.

Kalaiarasan, Segar’s son and Sharana’s Beneficiary

“You are happy now?’ I ask him. “Yes ma’am, but I don’t want to stop here. I am preparing very hard and I want to pass my Licentiate, Associate, and Fellowship exams with the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) and become an advisor to companies on matters of insurance policy.”

How far this young confident smiling young man had come in life and how clear was his vision of where he wanted to reach. Of course, there was a loan to be paid but credit to Sharana that this young man felt no pressure. “Sharana is like a second home to me.” He said. This itself was rewarding if the look in Mr. Ravianand’s eyes as he gazed at his ward was anything to go by.

“How is your mother now?” I ask him.

“She is very happy. After my father passed away, she sank into depression. The only reason she laboured to go to an NGO doing tailoring work was to not give up on life. She struggled just enough to bring food to the table. Her mental health was too frail to become entrepreneurial and use the sewing machine she had at home to enhance income.”

“And what of your younger sister?”

“She has just completed her M.Sc. in Material Sciences and is looking for a job.”

Kalaiarasan had a bright smile when I finished speaking to him. How far his family had come from gloom and want, bereavement and despair, but how much more I had learnt about idealism, character, compassion, and the power of a good education.