45-year-old Raja Sethu Murali is a man on a mission. An auto driver in Coimbatore, he makes sure every deserving child gets a chance at education, something he never got.
Growing up in a household with an alcoholic for a father and a daily wager for a mother, going to bed with an empty stomach was a common occurrence. Clearly, in his circumstances, education was not a priority. To make sure no child misses out on education the way he did, Raja spends almost all the money he earns on helping poor children in Coimbatore's schools. In an interview with The News Minute, he said,
“I started with just three children and today I am able to help about 150 students yearly from 32 government schools. If the students are able to score well in class 10, they will be able to do well in their future.”
In the past 11 years, he has helped around 1,300 students. He identifies poor students in Coimbatore's schools with the help of the teachers working there and buys them bags, books, and lunch boxes.
On an average, he spends about Rs 1,700 on each student in a year. When he runs out of money, fellow auto drivers and daily wage labourers who believe in his cause help him out.
But that's not where Raja's kindness ends — he also provides support to HIV-positive children in neighbouring villages by spending time with them and bringing them gifts.
According to The Deccan Chronicle, last year in Tamil Nadu alone, 37,488 children dropped out of school. Coimbatore stood second with 2,203 dropouts. Most students drop out either due to poverty or because their parents are migrating. What Raja is doing for the kids could go a long way in motivating them to stay in school and continue their studies.