Emirates-AIM for Seva Student Home for Girls

TamilNadu, IndiaGirls living in remote tribal communities in India's Tamil Nadu state have a chance to break out of the cycle of illiteracy and poverty at a residential educational facility funded by the Emirates Airline Foundation.

The foundation bought the land and funded the construction of the Emirates-AIM for Seva Student Home for Girls, which cost nearly US $70,000. In addition, the $17,000 annual running expenses will be funded by donations over the next 20 years.

Girls are free to learn and play in the secure environment of the hostel which opened in 2007 and provides a safe haven for them while they attend a government school in nearby Dharmapuri.

The success of the home, which also offers training in music, craft classes, gardening, tailoring and folk dancing, has led to expansion plans – again funded by the foundation – which will take its roll to more than 100 girls.

The home was initiated by AIM for Seva, an NGO which has built similar homes across India, and provides the girls with free accommodation, food, medical assistance and supplementary education.

Living at the Emirates-AIM for Seva Student Home, the girls are protected from being pulled into child labour, while it also gives them better chance to launch a career and help their families escape the poverty they are trapped in.

With virtually no public transport, the great distance between home and school made attending difficult for these girls whose parents are mostly agricultural labourers with an average monthly income of $25.

Many have to move away from the villages to find employment, which often results in the girls also working to provide for the family or skipping school to stay at home and assist in domestic chores.

Visalakshi, now one of the home’s fortunate residents, used to stay with relatives in Belamaranahalli village as her parents work in Bangalore earning their daily wages. She says she's thrilled about her new home, adding: "I want to be a doctor. Nobody in our village has become a doctor. Now I will definitely become one and serve the community."

Hemlatha Ravi, Treasury & Taxation Manager, Corporate Finance, Emirates Group, said: “It is heartening to know that step by step AIM for Seva is improving the quality of life of many.

“When Emirates decided to fund one of the AIM for Seva student homes in Tamil Nadu, I visited a couple of their existing homes there. The best testament comes from the smiling faces of incredibly bright children whose lives have been touched.

“An opportunity has been given to them to get out of their extreme poverty, achieve their potential and become contributing members of society. And the change is remarkable. From toddlers reciting nursery rhymes in English to bright eyed children diligently doing their homework every evening under able supervision, they make you aware that it is only equal opportunity that separates them from those of us who have been given everything we need.”

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