Vocational Training: Carpentry Boys from Sabin’s Centre at Work

Carpentry at Pathway
Carpentry at Pathway

Our boys of the carpentry unit had gone to the apartment of our esteemed friend Mr Thirumalai a few days ago to try out their newly acquired skills in furnishing woodwork, and though there was no feedback as yet from our benefactor on the accomplishment of their mission, I decided to go over and see for myself the havoc wrought. Both Mr and Mrs . Thirumalai received me with joyful thanks and a delicious hot beverage, and even before I could ask they said in one voice.

“Your workmen are the best we have ever seen in life; they are absolutely reliable, dependable and punctual, methodical and meticulous”.

As I settled down on the sofa with the cheering cup to have a chat with them, I perceived our Ramesh thoroughly sanding a wooden surface in preparation for the final polishing, so absorbed in their work and their faces revealing such delight at noticing the newer ranges of tones and lines emerging in the process on the wooden surface that they were totally oblivious of my arrival. I learnt that such concentration and single-minded dedication is rarely found in carpenters these days, unless exceptionally, and generally the fellows disappear suddenly for an eternity of tea break or simply do the vanishing trick after collecting the advance, and they are not to be blamed because the demand for good carpenters far exceeds the supply.

Indeed one must be very lucky to get such good carpenters like ours, it seems. With legitimate pride I viewed the boys select and use many mysterious tools with great expertise and perfect knowledge, which is to be used for which. It is not for nothing that they are disciples of the illustrious Velankanni, our carpentry instructor. I found them absolutely careful in driving home a nail; a thing I have never been able to perform safely all my life without every time hammering my thumb. In fact my admiration prompted to comment upon it, with the result that I was given on the spot a brief lesson in carpentry, my first lesson, by Kumar. He impressed upon me how the handle of the hammer is to be held such that it acts as an extension of the arm to produce additional leverage and force while striking a nail safely. And then they taught me the identification of the scale, trysquare, marking gauge, marking scriber, hand saw, rip saw, crosscut saw, compass saw, jack plane, rasp file, smooth file, firmer chisel, claw hammer, screw driver and pincer, and I was well on the way to my apprenticeship, to the great delight of Mr Thirumali .

He said, “Their enthusiasm is simply contagious”. We convey our grateful thanks to Mr and Mrs Thirumalai for giving us this opportunity to do the entire woodwork in their new modern, sprawling, first floor house. Our boys assisted the supervisors in the production of innumerable doors, windows, wardrobes using good wood and material and Pathway now looks forward for more challenging contracts which help earn some revenue, and also utilize the abilities of our adolescents and adults of Pathway to employ many employable disabled persons. This craft experience kindles new ideas in them and builds new relationships for them, new learning and new adaptations, besides constant stimulation of activity-oriented problem-solving skills, says Thirumalai. I saw Ramesh meanwhile start sawing a piece of wood with short strokes and then slowly move on to full-length even strokes.

Nagalingam was adjusting a screw for the correct depth of the cutting edge to suit the kind of wood on hand, considering the nature of the grains and the amount of push necessary. Can I have one more cup of this?” ( indian Bourn Vita is sometimes very tempting!) The day’s work was coming to a close and the boys cleaned the area thoroughly and stored the tools carefully away. Remember Izaac Walton who wrote that famous book on fishing, under the title “The Compleat angler”-(Yes, that is the spelling in the book, unless I am completely wrong)- and now we intend to bring out a manual called “The Compleat Carpentry”, namely a carpenter from Pathway.

(Our carpentry unit comprises, besides the above three, the following: Zakir, Ritesh, Prakash, Ashirvadam, Kuberdoss, Annamalai, Giridharan, Ganesh, Senthil, Mohan and Ramesh. They have already started earning a living, and they have to their credit so far many doors, several windows, incl. French windows, artistic front doors, decorative prayer shelves and cases, class room furniture, fancy teak work, wardrobes, kitchen shelves and miscellaneous items). RK

Featured Student: Snekha

Snekha
Snekha

While the majority of students at the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School came as young children and have received their entire education there, Snekha joined in 2010 in the eighth grade. She is a bright, ambitious girl who expresses herself fluently in English as well as in her native Tamil.(Read More)

She remembers her childhood with an alcoholic father as tense; “No peace, no joy, little food, just arguments and beatings.” After her father threw her mother, herself, brother, and sister out of their house in the city, they came to the countryside near Pathway to live with her mother’s brother and father who treated them not much better. When relatives refused to give them shelter, they lived in a hut and made a meager living selling garden crops.

Since they had no electricity, Snekha studied outside under a streetlight. Her mother wanted to keep her in a school where she could learn English, but when she ran out of both money and credit the children were forced to drop out. About this time they accidentally met someone who formerly had taught at Pathway who directed them there.  Now preparing for her public exams at the end of tenth grade, Snekha is enthusiastic about her goals. “I want to continue my education and become a doctor so I can help others with health, and I want to tell everyone about the peace and joy I have found so I can give them hope.”

Seminary Graduation

Seminary Graduation
Seminary Graduation

In addition to the student’s regular academic work, enrichment activities in music, drama, art, and values are available outside normal school hours.  Seminary is one such class for teens, which held its graduation ceremony Friday April 5 with over 50 students receiving certificates for their participation in the program this year,  We are proud of their dilligence.

Social Bravery Award

Prasad receiving the Social Bravery Award
Prasad receiving the Social Bravery Award

In a glittering function on March 20th attended by ‘Who is Who’ of the city of Calcutta, the Godfrey Phillips Social Bravery Award was conferred on Prasad for his services to the disabled of India for the past three and a half decades. No services for the disabled were available in Chennai In the early 1970’s when Prasad, then in his early twenties, founded Pathway without any assistance from the government or any outside support.

“Man’s greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes – obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.” – Victor Hugo

Godfrey Phillips, a major Indian corporation, presents awards to men and women who show exceptional courage, either by acts of bravery or gallantry in saving lives, or by persistent work on important social causes which serve the poor and downtrodden and the society. Individuals are selected by a panel of independent eminent jury drawn from various walks of life at the regional and national levels.

The award, consisting of Cash, Gold Medal, Citation and a Shawl, was presented to Prasad by Manish Gupta, Minister of Power and Non-Conventional Energy, Government of West Bengal in the presence Danseuse Mamata Shankar and actress Rupa Ganguly and top executives of the company. A specially made video on Pathway and Prasad’s work was screened during the event.