Rajiv's Story

A Rare Chance

Rajiv Gandhi grew up in an agricultural family in a remote village. Over time, decreased rainfall due to the changing climate dried up the well on their land, drastically reducing their income.

“Although my parents are illiterate, they wanted to give me a quality education. Here in India, government schools offer free, but not quality, education. Most private schools are in urban areas and are profit oriented. Economically disadvantaged families like mine cannot afford these schools, but Shanthimalai’s School Sponsorship Program has filled the gap with free, quality education for students in a rural area.”

Masters Degree through SSDP

After high school, a Shanthimalai Skill Development (SSDP) scholarship made it possible for Rajiv to attend a local college.  “Every Saturday, I participated in sessions at Shanthimalai Trust with other sponsorship students.” These sessions helped Rajiv become more fluent in English and develop his interview skills. He graduated with a BA in 2004.

“No college in my district offers post-graduate work, so I went to Chennai. With another full SSDP scholarship, I earned a Masters Degree in English Literature at Presidency College.”

A Turning Point

Rajiv then got a good job at an IT company in Chennai, but after three years he discovered it “didn’t bring satisfaction to my soul.”  Returning to his home in Tiruvannamalai, he became an Assistant Professor at a local college in 2008. Most students were the first in their families to be educated. “My experiences helped me coach these rural students in developing their job and communication skills. Many of my students are now leading a quality life. They are working, taking care of their parents, and acting as role models in their villages.”

The Joy of Giving Back

Today Rajiv teaches high school students from severely disadvantaged families. Happily married to a fellow teacher, he observes, “What the students need first is love and caring, and then education. Shanthimalai has changed many lives like mine from ignorance to knowledge, poverty to prosperity, loss of hope to faith, from a life full of obstacles to progress – and finally to a feeling of peace. Now my prayer to God is that whatever support I received from Shanthimalai Trust may be also given to many students like me.”

Please consider making a donation to the Skill Development Program in honor of Rajiv and others like him who have returned to their villages to help.

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