Pathway Excellence Awards for 2015

Our founder had decided that every year some awards will be given in honor of donors who have so tirelessly worked to uplift the children and give them a new life. Three awards have been instituted in name of Judge William Sheffield for a boy child, ADSN Prasad for a girl child, and Sabin Foundation for a deserving child. All these awards are meant to honor children who come from very difficult backgrounds and still excel in their studies. Their grit in completing the course is something to be recognised by all.

Though we had decided to award these children in the month of November, we were hit by nature’s fury and the entire centres were challenged by floods for two months. Our energies were focused on getting back to normalcy. By January things started settling down and we re-organised ourselves to complete this event. Our mentor and friend Prof. M S Swaminathan very graciously agreed to meet the children and bless them. We are very thankful to this wonderful gentleman who has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology” because of his leadership of the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture and by Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”.

The awardees were nervous and eager to meet this wonderful soul as we traveled three hours to Prof. M S Swaminathan’s cabin. As soon as he saw me he got up from his chair and without a word hugged me and softly spoke about Prasad and said how much he had meant to him. No words were necessary since his expression and the silent tear said all. My eyes were brimming with tears but the happiness of the event took over as he focused on the children and greeted each one of us with fatherly warmth. He remarked that he was blessed to be a part of Pathway, recalled the work that Prasad had done, and blessed us to carry on this wonderful work. We thank him for his kindness, humbleness, and love.

One of our staff, Linda, read out the awards. The first, given in the name of Dr. A D S N Prasad, was to a girl child Gomathi, and the Sabin award was given to Kaviyarasi. These two girls hail from very humble, poverty stricken background with only the mothers acting as angels in bringing up their children. In spite of having some medical discomfort in standing, the professor made us proud, acknowledging the parents of the children by honoring and underlining their sustained efforts in bringing them up facing all adversities.  The Judge William Sheffield award was given to Surya who was an orphan when he came to the farm in his pre-kindergarten school days. He always believed that Pathway was his family which will always be close to his heart. He has made us proud by following all the right paths and today has achieved a diploma in computers.

Each child was personally honoured with a shawl, a garland, a medal, a small gift, a cash prize of ten thousand rupees, and a certificate to their name which they proudly displayed in the group photos which were taken after the event.

Physical, Mental, and Financial Stimuli

It was a great sight to witness as children of all ages were thrilled to see the arrival of brand new colourful play equipment at the Pamela Martinez school and Children’s Home. Thanks to the continued generosity of the State Bank of India for donating this play equipment which would bring great happiness in the hearts of hundreds of children.

Through this munificent support the organization procured the following play equipment: Rocking Chair, See-Saw four seater, a six seater Merry-Go-Round, Duck Merry-Go-Round with four seats, Horse Merry-Go-Round with four seats, 12 feet Roller Slide, Millipede, Flying Butterfly, Twister, Walker, four seater See-Saw, Hang N Rotor. In addition to these physical playthings, Pathway also procured several specialized teaching and demonstration models, experimental sets, and equipment in various branches of science to stimulate the gray matter of the children.

sbi-checque

State Bank of India, touted to be the largest bank in the world (with network of largest number of branches), has been a constant and continuous supporter of Pathway. Previously the bank has donated funds to procure kitchen equipment, bakery equipment, an ambulance to offer community based rehabilitation in various villages, etc. A cheque was handed over to Prasad in a simple function by Mr Vidya Sagar, Regional Manager, State Bank of India, in the presence of Chandra Prasad, Sudha Subramaniam, M A Ramar, Dhuli Patnaiak, Dr Ravindranath and a host of officers from the Bank.

Honoring C R Ranganayaki

With anguish and with a heavy heart we announce the passing away of Mrs C.R. RANGANAYAKI at age 99 years. She was absolutely healthy and active until very recently. Hailing from one of the prominent families of Chennai, she retired as a professor in physical education from a leading government college. She served Pathway for over 20 years as president, vice president, and most recently as trustee of the Dr Dathu Rao Memorial Charitable Trust, which is the Indian tax-exempt non-profit which holds Pathway’s funds. She was highly supportive of the work and mission of the organization, and loved the services rendered for the disabled and poor.

In the year 1990 Prasad and the dear late Ruby Ponniah met this lady in her beautiful old stately bungalow near the famous Marina beach in Chennai. Those were the days of struggle, as Pathway was run in a rented premises in Adyar, and Prasad was feverishly trying to get hold of a piece of land to construct their own building. She joined them in a series of meetings with Manda Krishnamurthy a very well known ‘social worker’ who was in charge of the largest and oldest orphanage for girls in Chennai, the Avvai Home, and whose husband, Dr. Krishnamurthy, eminent oncological surgeon and chairman of the famous Cancer Institute, was the son of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, Free India’s first woman doctor. These meetings paved way for them to contribute the piece of land where the current Chennai building was built with fabulous support from Judge William Sheffield.

We greatly miss your kindness, benign presence and wise counselling. Thank you for your grand life and wonderful contribution!!!.

Congratulations to the 2015 Graduates

The year 2014-15 has been a great year for the children of Pamela Martinez/Pathway Matriculation School, climaxed by the fantastic news that all the students had passed the 10th standard examinations. It was delightful to hear the laughter and see the smiles of children. Soorya and Charles, who had caused some concern, had also passed. It certainly called for celebrations. A colourful event to celebrate the occasion was held at Pamela Martinez Matriculation School.

It was interesting to see that girls had performed considerably better than the boys, as with the previous years’ rankings. Among the girls, Jyothilakshmi received 92.3% for Pathway’s highest marks, with centrum in science and social studies, while Karan scored 82% to lead the boys.

All the children did well, receiving excellent support from the teachers. The students had the opportunity to tackle several practice exams before the final government tests. This experience was spearheaded by Sudha Subramaniam, who devised methods to make lessons interesting and to improve scores, introducing novel techniques and designs, being ably assisted by Principal Annadurai. The efforts of the teachers need to be praised as each one of them took upon themselves the responsibility to guide and goad each child to study and perform. Teachers Gunasundari, Subhashini, and Dhanasekaran, along with Principal Annadurai, were honored during the occasion.

It was really wonderful to see the performance of Jyothilakshmi, who had scored 92.31% in aggregate, topping the area, with centum or full 100% score in science as well as in social studies. Pathway salutes this girl and has selected her to receive the Pathway Excellence Award, comprised of a cash award and a citation, that will be presented at a later date. This quiet, unassuming girl, hailing from a very poor and dysfunctional background, without a mother, was described as extremely studious and focused by Sudha Subramaniam who had groomed this girl as well as other children in the class.
Jyothilakshmi in her speech thanked Pathway for everything. She described her 12 year stay at the Children’s Home as a fabulous experience. She conveyed her grateful thanks to teachers, warden and caretakers for caring for her. She had words of advice to her juniors, She asked them to be obedient, listen to the teachers and elders, and study hard. When asked what she intended to study in college, Jyothilakshmi said that she was dreaming to become a doctor.

This was a special time of jubilation as the students arrived one by one. It was touching to see the exchanges between the teachers and students, as all celebrated the success of their efforts. There were tears, both of happiness and sadness, as the children said their farewells and prepared to leave their Pathway home and felt both anxiety and excitement about the next steps they should take.

Sudha Subramaniam addressed the children and the teachers and urged them to do well in their lives. She said that Pathway’s doors will always be open to them for any help they may need. She urged the children to utilize this resource and benefit in every aspect in their lives. She reminded students how Pathway and the school had greatly influenced their lives, as there has been sea change not only in their appearance, growth, and development, but also in their total achievement and potential.

Founder-Director of Pathway, A D S N Prasad congratulated the children and the teachers for this wonderful result. He counseled the children on the values of life that are much more important than just scholastic performance, that it is important to gain all-round excellence in life so that they can be great people of character first and then great citizens of India. He called on each one to follow a righteous path. He asked the children to be grateful and follow the teaching of our Lord, outlining stories of very poor children who had succeeded in life, not only by studying hard but also by contributing to the welfare of the family and of society. Since all the children at the Pamela Martinez /Pathway School were the first in their family to attend school, he said that it was very important that they did well since they would be models to be emulated by generations to come. They need to be grateful to their alma mater and their teachers at all times. Dr. Prasad stressed that young Pathway graduates should excel in English as they proceed higher as it would be the passport for their future.

Chandra Prasad congratulated all the children and teachers and said that she was very proud of their performance and looked forward for their continued achievements in life and welcomed every one of them to contact Pathway at any time. Dhuli Patnaiak congratulated the children. Principal Annadurai and teachers addressed the audience. All the outgoing children were presented with tasty snacks, and a cell phone so they can keep in touch.

From the Directors

As we welcome the New Year, we are indeed grateful for the many blessings we have received this past year. Of course we had our share of challenges too, but it is heartening to know that we have been blessed with courage, strength, and above all with mercy by God to overcome these trials.

We are delighted to celebrate the second anniversary of this newsletter, “In His Footsteps.” As members of the editorial board, we earnestly hope that you enjoy reading the newsletter. We would be happy to send our mailings to any of your friends and associates who may wish to be informed, if you could provide us with names and addresses.

We pray for God’s blessings and mercy on each one of us. At Pathway we look forward to the upcoming year with renewed zeal, expectation, and optimism. We plan to intensify our efforts and serve more of His children. It is also our desire to magnify our endeavor to serve many more “poorest of the poor” through our outreach program in remote villages. We believe that every child is special and has been especially sent to us to be served. At this marvelous time we convey our continued gratitude to all our partners and benefactors and pray for their continued love, munificence, and association.

Prasad, Chandra Prasad, Sudha Subramaniam

National Skill Conference

Skill India

Pathway Directors recently participated in meetings with the Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS) of Bangalore, seeking to expand vocation training for the disabled. Dr. Prasad was invited to speak at the “Skill India” national convention, as CEO’s from networking organizations explored job training and placement for persons with mental disabilities and related conditions. International Catholic funding and the development agency Misereor of Germany sponsored the conference, with participation from the European Union, International Labour Organization, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and others. A large number of representatives from this group visited Pathway, observing the work done at the Chennai facility as well as at the Sabin Centre for the disabled.

Representatives from FVTRS and Pathway also discussed the possibility of collaborating with a community college to help children from the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School to receive further education. There was great interest in Pathway’s outreach program to remote villages as well, a program conceived by Sudha Subramaniam, which can empower non-school goers and dropouts. Chandra Prasad and Dhuli Patnaik took part in these discussions.

Congratulating the Achievers

The year 2014 has been a good year for the children of Pamela Martinez/Pathway Matriculation School, climaxed by the fantastic news that all the students had passed the 10th standard examinations. It was delightful to hear the laughter and see the smiles of the children. Deepalakshmi and Lakshmanan, who had caused some concern, had also passed. It certainly called for celebrations.

It was interesting to see that girls had performed considerably better than the boys, as with the previous years’ rankings. Among the girls, Sathya received 83% for Pathway’s highest marks, while Aravinthan scored 78% to lead the boys.

All the children have done well against many odds, receiving excellent support from the teachers. The students had the opportunity to tackle several practice exams before the final government tests. This experience was spearheaded by Mrs. Sudha Subramaniam, who devised methods to make lessons interesting and to improve scores, introducing novel techniques and designs, being ably assisted by Principal Annadurai. The efforts of the teachers need to be praised as each one of them took upon themselves the responsibility to guide and goad each child to study and perform.

The gentle and loving Sathiya, who hails from quite a difficult background, did very well in all subjects, obtaining 83% in her aggregate, with more than 99% in science. It was a pleasure to see her delight and happiness. Sathiya wants to pursue her studies by joining Plus two and then study engineering and will need to do very well to achieve this goal. She has worked hard to develop many talents, including playing piano.

The soft-spoken Shantiya did well, getting high scores in all the subjects, with over 80% in four of her major subjects — mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology — despite the health challenges she has had (see “Featured Student” in this newsletter). Similarly Mercy (77%) also obtained very good marks in her all subjects.

This was a special time of jubilation as the students arrived one by one. It was touching to see the exchanges between the teachers and students, as all celebrated the success of their efforts. There were tears, both of happiness and sadness, as the children said their farewells and prepared to leave their Pathway home and felt both anxiety and excitement about the next steps they should take.

It was great to see Ezhilarasi, Gayathri, Manju, Mercy, Monisha , Sornamuki, Akash, Aravinthan and others assembling together with great joy writ all over their face.

Founder-Director of Pathway, A D S N Prasad congratulated the children and the teachers for this wonderful result. He counseled the children on the values of life that are much more important than just scholastic performance, that it is important to gain all-round excellence in life so that they can be great people of character first and then great citizens of India. He called on each one to follow a righteous path, outlining stories of very poor children who had succeeded in life, not only by studying hard but also by contributing to the welfare of the family and of society. Since all the children at the Pamela Martinez /Pathway School were first time school goers, he said that it was very important that they did well since they would be models to be emulated by generations to come. They need to be grateful to their alma mater and their teachers at all times. Dr. Prasad stressed that young Pathway graduates should excel in English as they proceed higher as it would be the passport for their future.
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Mrs. Sudha Subramaniam addressed the children and the teachers and urged them to do well in their lives. She said that Pathway’s doors will always be open to them for any help they may need. She urged children to utilize this resource and benefit in every aspect in their lives. She reminded students how Pathway and the school had greatly influenced their lives, as there has been sea change not only in their appearance, growth, development but also in their total achievement and potential. Mrs. Chandra Prasad congratulated all the children and teachers and said that she was very proud of their performance and looked forward for their continued achievements in life and welcomed every one of them to contact Pathway at any time about their future needs.

Join our Volunteer Program!

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Exciting news! Pathway’s paid volunteer program to serve the “poorest of the poor” will have its first sessions in June and July 2014. This program allows volunteers with various backgrounds to make a lasting difference in the lives of orphans and students with disabilities in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Potential service opportunities include, but are not limited to: mentoring children needing extra support, working with children with disabilities, assisting the mobile clinic, contributing to specific service projects in villages, assisting in cooking, helping in minor construction, upgrading the library or computer lab, and serving as future ambassadors for the institution.

The program also includes vast cultural experiences, e.g. Indian cuisine, yoga classes, day trips for sight-seeing/shopping, cultural events, and Indian culinary classes. Also, Pathway offers the unique opportunity to visit and volunteer with friends, as a single individual, as a married couple, and even as a family. Having volunteered at Pathway for three weeks, I can sincerely say what a powerful experience serving at Pathway is. The students, staff, and community at large leave a powerful impression on the hearts of all those who visit and serve. You have the opportunity to change the lives of children who truly benefit from your love, talents, and service. Please contact Britany Barnes (britany.barnes@pathway.org.in) with any questions as soon as possible if you hope to be a part of the trips this summer; it’s imperative that you begin the processes for obtaining passports, visas, and vaccinations.

Britany Barnes
Britany Barnes

The cost of a two week program is $1500, and a 4 week program is $2200, not including airfare.

Creative English & Science Olympics

Awards Given by Bryan University
Awards Given by Bryan University

It was celebration time at the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School. There was great excitement and anticipation on the faces of children of 6th and 7th grades. Children were found to be scrambling for vantage positions to witness this glorious event they were waiting for. While the children were taking their assigned positions, teachers lead by Annadurai, followed by Gunasundari and Kumar were seen to be busy in the last minute arrangements. For almost one year Professors from Bryan University, Phoenix, Arizona had been engaged in continuous interaction from a distance of 13811 Km or 8582 miles. Thanks to Internet software technology from Adobe, two way interactive communication was made possible between the professors in the US and the children in India. While English was taught by the dedicated couple Don Gull and Dana Gull, science was taught by Tyson Brock Hancock and Andrew Christe. The classes dealt with English poetry, composition, creative storytelling, and conversation, among other things. By end of January the classes were ready for ‘Creative English and Science Olympics competition’, coinciding with winter Olympics 2014, Sochi, Russia. Every student was encouraged to submit his best submissions in English and science assignments and their original works. Their submissions were judged by the panel of professionals at the Bryan University.

It was a grand ceremony in the virtual presence of Don Gull, Chancellor of Bryan University. Founder/Director of Pathway A D S N Prasad in his address thanked Don Gull for this wonderful programme that was helping children at Pathway. He said that there was significant and noticeable improvement in the English language ability on the part of children. He also thanked Dana Gull for her contribution. Prasad thanked Brock and Andrew for teaching science to the children and said that the children enjoyed the subject a great deal. He also conveyed his grateful thanks to Judge William Sheffield who was the architect of this relationship between Bryan University and Pathway. Prasad also thanked Tania Stranding and others who have been working behind the scene. Don Gull in his address conveyed his love and appreciation to children. He also acknowledged the contribution of Chandra Prasad and Sudha Subramaniam and the role of teachers Annadurai, Gunasundari and Lawrence Kumar. He announced the names of 29 Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners, and certificates were awarded to children by Prasad in the presence of Chandra Prasad and Sudha Subramaniam, who joined in the presentation ceremony. There was a special trophy presented to Prasana for all round best performance. Andrew Christe and Tyson Brock Hancock announced the names of winners of the science Olympics competition.

A Great Soccer Experience

Soccer at Pathway
Soccer at Pathway

It was a thrilling experience for the boys from the Pamela Martinez/Pathway Matriculation School and Orphanage to participate in a friendly match of soccer (Indian football) with a team from “Goals for Girls.” The contest was arranged by and played at the Rising Star Outreach of India (RSO), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children and adults affected by Hansen’s disease (leprosy). The US-sponsored NGO, “Goals for Girls,” is an international initiative of girls helping girls through the game of soccer. This organization connects girls from different countries and backgrounds with their peers around the world in a forum that addresses social and health challenges through cultural exchange and soccer. The aim is to help disadvantaged girls by providing access to health and education; one campaign has been in Africa to spread awareness on HIV-AIDS. Soccer was chosen because it provides exercise and encourages good team spirit among participants both on and off the field, as well as promoting discipline, commitment, and peer communication.

The boys from the Pamela Martinez School were led by captain Aravindhan and the able goal keeper Charles with assistance from Raju, G Pandian, E Pandian, Kumar, Ajith, Deva, Sugumar, Vijith, Ayyapan, and substitute players Vijay, Akash and Lakshman. The Pathway team gave a tough time to the experienced traveling team from the U.S. from ‘Goals for Girls,” who were led by its International Programs Director Jackie Skinner and fabulously supported by U.S. Olympian Cindy Parlow. The girls have been trained from the age of four years, whereas the Pathway boys received training in soccer for only a week, since cricket, not soccer, is India’s major national sport. By half time the boys from Pamela Martinez School were leading, 5-2, but finally lost narrowly to the girls’ team, 7-6. This experience increased the students’ enthusiasm for soccer, and even more importantly, has built feelings of camaraderie and fellowship between Pathway and RSO.