Lighting up fisherfolk’s lives

A college girl’s social project aims at improving the lives of children in the community.

The life of a college student can be really hectic. Continuous classes filled with back-to-back tests, and innumerable assignments. As the clock continues to tic toc, every student has a growing anxiety of having to complete work and meet deadlines, attending the right workshops, among so many other things. While in college, a student can easily become overwhelmed by a schedule that is more demanding than he or she is accustomed to. But, it is astonishing to see countless college students rushing to community centres and hunting for ideas and giving suggestions for bringing social awareness.

A long conversation with a highly spirited 19-year-old could have some seriously energetic effect on a person and also make one think of how exactly college students are able to do it all. Anupriya Komeswaran, founder of Illuminate, somehow seems to have it all sorted out. Illuminate, a social service organisation which caters to the fisherfolk of the east coast regions in Chennai, was solely started by this young individual who wanted to make a small wave of change and contribute to the society.

The establishment, which was the result of a project she did in Class XII, later developed and became more established during her college years. When she started Illuminate, her friends (a few of whom are trustees now) and her sister were her constant pillars of support. “Getting sponsors was the most difficult thing we faced,” she remarks. “Nobody trusts students easily. So we took whoever is interested to the place we teach and that’s how we got sponsors.”

Watching all those little kids sell sundal and other eatables upset Anurpiya. “I wanted to do something small and grow with it. So we went door to door and enquired about the needs of the fisherfolk community,” she says. On the name Illuminate, she proudly says “It is a flame which keeps growing.”

Overcoming challenges

Though she studies in NIT, Trichy, Anupriya plans all her events based on her vacations back at home. “If there is a dire situation which must need immediate action, friends and family always help out.” Being a high performing student and being involved in extra-curricular activities, Anupriya says time management and critical thinking is the key to managing both. The primary aim of social work is to try to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people, with special attention shown towards the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. It is easy to do all this if one is connected to the cause, which is the reason for volunteering. “The kind of exposure that we, as college students, receive is amazing.” she states.

Speaking of her teachers, “My school teachers and principal were of great help. They helped in the green march, by making sure many students turned up for the event,” she says. Currently preparing for her coming exams while trying to find sponsorship for three children who are talented and interested in sports, and bursting with happiness about their recently signed and approved recognition as a charitable trust from the government of India, this young college girl is content living the busy life because she believes that every child deserves to learn and have fun.

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