The story of the struggles and success of one boy supported by ILP.
I remember him as a boy with a perpetually serious expression. Purushotham stood out from the rest of his group because of his fluency in English and his conversational skills. He was only thirteen years old at the time when he first became associated with ILP.
Purushotham was selected by ILP under its scholarship initiative, the Puraskara scheme, in 2005 - the second year of the scheme. At that time, he was studying in the 8th standard, at a government aided school in Bengaluru's Yeshwantpura suburb.
Purushotham's father is a tailor and although he excelled in his work, was an alcoholic and spent all his earnings on liquor. This left the household economics in shambles and required his mother to work full time to keep the household together and to raise young Purushotham and his younger sister, Kala, and to put them through school. Her wages as a cleaner and packer of lentils at a grocery store barely met the household expenses, and so, from his seventh standard, Purushotham worked part-time to augment the family income.
Purushotham would wake up at 5:00 in the morning to work in a local bakery and later deliver newspapers to the neighborhood houses. The extra income helped keep himself and his sister in school and added valuable rupees to the household finances. The family of four lived in a small one-room tenement in the Akiappa Garden locality.
His selection by ILP for its scholarship assistance program eased the family's financial strain and Purushotham could reduce his work hours at the bakery. He completed his 10th standard with a first class and selected commerce as his stream of study for his pre-university course. ILP connected him to the NGO, Prerana, and helped him secure a post-matric scholarship for PUC.
Shanmugam, a volunteer with ILP, acted as his mentor and guided him on subjects that he found difficult. Purushotham completed his pre-university course in commerce with a first class and was accepted for his B.Com degree at Bapu College, in the city. Since his college hours are in the morning, he uses his afternoons to work part-time at a super-market near his home. He takes home a total of Rs 3500 with provident fund and other benefits. Meanwhile, he has not only continued with the newspaper delivery activity that he started while at school, but has grown it into a small newspaper sub-agency business that delivers to 120 houses and adds Rs 1300 to the family income every month.
Purushotham is no longer dependent on anyone to support his education. He is now in the final year of his degree course and has been supporting himself through the three years of his undergraduate study. He also supports his sister, who is studying in the second year of her pre-university course. He has become the 'man' of the house, handling all the important decisions for his family while his father continues to default on his responsibilities because of his alcoholism, The family has moved into better accommodation in the same neighborhood and Purushotham owns his own two-wheeled transport.
Purushotham wants to do a masters course in Financial Administration after his B.Com. His hard work and discipline, entrepreneurial spirit and never-say-die attitude has carried him from the depths of poverty to a position of strength in today's competitive environment. His past struggles and experience gives him a unique perspective to perform, excel and succeed.
Purushotham is an example of how much lives can be transformed through education and literacy, no matter the difficulties involved and the uniqueness of each situation. Many more young lives are waiting for our support and Purushotham's example is what should carry us through to each of them.
We wish him the very best in his future!
Contributed by Sindhu Naik and Vijaya Raghavan.