How it all began...
Pudiyador began in 2001 when Prof. Narayanan and his family experienced something that unsettled them. While driving home late at night, their car broke down on the highway. They looked around for a mechanic shop and found Muthu, a little 10-year old boy, sitting in the shop. Muthu fixed their car in no time with his nimble but calloused fingers. He was quick, sharp, keen and highly professional, but completely robbed of his innocence and hardened beyond his years.
Within the next couple of months, the Prof and his son started a little "club" in their backyard where they gathered children from their neighbouring slums. They helped them with their academics and introduced them to a world of "education" experienced only by children of the privileged classes. They envisioned a future in which these children will be better equipped to break their vicious cycles of poverty.
From its humble beginnings in 2001, Pudiyador has now grown into a fully functioning organization with a strong and rapidly growing presence in and around the city of Chennai. Today, Pudiyador benefits around 120 children and is established in 3 locations in Chennai, India. Two of these locations are in the outskirts while the third is inside the city of Chennai. Each center serves between 40 and 50 children, ranging from 4 to 16 years of age, and operates during weekday evenings and weekends. Our hours of operation are:
Weekdays: 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM Weekends: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Timeline of Pudiyador centers
Prof. Narayanan starts the first Pudiyador with a small gathering of around 5 local underprivileged children in their garage in Ramapuram.
This center is run by Prof. Narayanan, our founding member and supports over 40 children in and around the Ramapuram area. This operation is entirely funded through the private family funds of Prof. Narayanan.
A second Pudiyador center was established in the semi-rural Urapakkam area (near Vandalur) in 2005. The Urapakkam Center is fully managed by students and alumni of Crescent Engineering College.
These students identified an impoverished community in the area, and motivated student volunteers have taken on the responsibility of financing, building and effectively managing a Pudiyador center there. This Center supports around 60 children.
Every year, new student volunteers are recruited by graduating students, and alumni pledge a part of their paychecks to support the center financially. ASHA for Education, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to social change in India through education, has also pledged to help support the Urapakkam Pudiyador Center for five years, starting from 2008.
The newest Pudiyador center was set up inside the City of Chennai at Adyar earlier this year. This center is the initiative of the students from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and it was made possible by the Raoul Wallenberg International Summer Travel Fellowship. This center aims to replicate the Urapakkam model with some changes to accommodate the long distance nature of the involvement.
The Isabel Bagramian Summer Travel Award, given by Linda Bennett and Robert Bagramian in honor of Isabel Bagramian, as part of the Wallenberg fellowships was instrumental in establishing this center. The fellowship was used to identify an impoverished community in Adyar and to help establish the Pudiyador Center there.
The University of Michigan students work closely with friends and volunteers to further fund, manage and run this Center.