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.

Sugumar

Sugumar is one of Pathway’s recent graduates. A pleasant, good-looking youth with a shy smile and large, striking eyes, Sugumar entered Pathway as a small child. His father left before his birth and his mother has worked long hours for years at a hotel in Chennai, saving whatever rupees she could to help with her son’s future education. Though he excels at math and is a hard worker, Sugumar feels that a career in catering would be both practical and obtainable.  He expresses his gratitude to Pathway for kindness and generosity shown him.

“Back to School”

Shilpa today is a young women of 23 years, bubbling, beautiful and confident, ready to face the world, willing to change lives of others, willing to meet challenges!! What brought this great transformation, what brought this drastic change from a shy, fidgeting, insecure and an introvert girl who joined Pathway in 2002? Shilpa is now eager to share with everybody this miracle.

She says “I was born in Kerala. My mother’s name is Mini and father is Padmakumar. I was told that my father abandoned the family when I was born, and we were in great poverty because of this. My mother was working as a nursing assistant and was in no position to take care of the family. My mother heard from one of her friends about Pathway. During a bright April morning, we visited Pathway at Chennai and met the director and director madam ( Prasads ). We immediately liked them and the place, as they showed great love, warmth and kindness. Soon my mother took me and admitted me in the Pamela Martinez School and Children’s Home at village Agili”.

“I was depressed and sad to be away from my mother, but soon I was embraced with open arms by many friends who showed great love, by the teachers at school, and by the warden and house mothers who readily shared their warm love. I now started enjoying living at Pathway and was admitted in third grade directly. Living in dorms at this wonderful place taught me many great things, it taught me discipline, humility, love, and above all love for God. Living here also helped me to learn to speak in English without fear or shyness. The chance to partake in extra-curricular activities changed my life for ever.

“After graduating from Pathway I attended a different school and a leading college, obtained my university graduation degree in zoology and biotechnology. and also certification from Institute of Airlines and Travel Agency (IATA). Now I am independent!!!”

Shilpa was thrilled when she received an invitation to volunteer at Pathway. She says “I am grateful to Pathway family and its directors (to whom she fondly refers as Mom & Dad, particularly to Sudha Subramaniam who has been a pillar of strength!!!) for giving me good education, health care, and everything. Now I see the children enjoying school, the play ground, the large library, the well equipped computer lab, etc. I take it on myself to explain to the children how blessed they are! I also tell them how the outside world is’. She adds “I believe Pathway is like a banyan tree and we are under this tree safe and secure. I am thankful for this golden opportunity to get back to my school to serve.”

“Back to School”

Shilpa today is a young women of 23 years, bubbling, beautiful and confident, ready to face the world, willing to change lives of others, willing to meet challenges!! What brought this great transformation, what brought this drastic change from a shy, fidgeting, insecure and an introvert girl who joined Pathway in 2002? Shilpa is now eager to share with everybody this miracle.

She says “I was born in Kerala. My mother’s name is Mini and father is Padmakumar. I was told that my father abandoned the family when I was born, and we were in great poverty because of this. My mother was working as a nursing assistant and was in no position to take care of the family. My mother heard from one of her friends about Pathway. During a bright April morning, we visited Pathway at Chennai and met the director and director madam ( Prasads ). We immediately liked them and the place, as they showed great love, warmth and kindness. Soon my mother took me and admitted me in the Pamela Martinez School and Children’s Home at village Agili”.

“I was depressed and sad to be away from my mother, but soon I was embraced with open arms by many friends who showed great love, by the teachers at school, and by the warden and house mothers who readily shared their warm love. I now started enjoying living at Pathway and was admitted in third grade directly. Living in dorms at this wonderful place taught me many great things, it taught me discipline, humility, love, and above all love for God. Living here also helped me to learn to speak in English without fear or shyness. The chance to partake in extra-curricular activities changed my life for ever.

“After graduating from Pathway I attended a different school and a leading college, obtained my university graduation degree in zoology and biotechnology. and also certification from Institute of Airlines and Travel Agency (IATA). Now I am independent!!!”

Shilpa was thrilled when she received an invitation to volunteer at Pathway. She says “I am grateful to Pathway family and its directors (to whom she fondly refers as Mom & Dad, particularly to Sudha Subramaniam who has been a pillar of strength!!!) for giving me good education, health care, and everything. Now I see the children enjoying school, the play ground, the large library, the well equipped computer lab, etc. I take it on myself to explain to the children how blessed they are! I also tell them how the outside world is’. She adds “I believe Pathway is like a banyan tree and we are under this tree safe and secure. I am thankful for this golden opportunity to get back to my school to serve.”

May = Summer Break

In addition to being the hottest month of the year, May is the time for Graduation and Summer Break when the students at the Pamela Martinez School visit their relatives. Dr. Prasad and Chandra took this opportunity to travel to the U.S. and meet in person with some of Pathway’s supporters.

Prasad met with a group of U.S. volunteers to answer questions and give instructions. Pictured (from left to right) Zaid Malhees, Social Media Team; Abby Wells, Social Media Team; Erica Morey, Volunteer Program Team; Richard Flores, Social Media Team; Scott Christensen, leader of Social Media and Website Teams; Ben Ehlert, Endowment Team; Dr. David Bryce of the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University, leader of the Endowment Team and member of the Pathway Advisory Committee; Karen and Jim Dosdall, newsletter editors; (not pictured) Kyle Tuft, Social Media Team; Dr. Gordon Gibb, Special Education Dept., BYU.

Of course, the most important person of the Prasads’ visit was their newborn first grandchild, Wyatt Rohan Prasad, born in April, this year, to Chetan and Tessa Prasad in Provo, Utah.

Featured Student: Karan

Karan is an intense tenth grade student from a single parent family, whose younger brother James (seventh grade) is also a student at Pathway. In 2003 Karan’s mother felt that Pathway was the answer to her prayers as she grappled with what she should do to protect and educate her sons while she was working long hours and was forced to live in an unsafe area.

As his graduation approaches, Karan is working seriously on his school marks. He expresses gratitude to Pathway for providing him with a solid and free education, a safe environment, and a moral compass for his life.

Featured Student: Sumithra

Sumithra is a beautiful tenth grade girl who came to Pathway with her brother Chiranjeevi in 2002. With a winning smile and a lovely singing voice, Sumithra has helped teach the small children on Sundays. She excels in sports and particularly enjoys volleyball and running. Sumithra’s favorite subject is science, and she would like future schooling to prepare her either to become a computer engineer, or a police woman so she could protect others from violence.

Pongal

Mid January is an important time in Tamil Nadu, so also for Pathway. The harvest festival falls typically on 14 January. This time the harvest brought great cheer in the hearts of everybody at the Pathway Agro Farm as plenty of rice and vegetables were harvested. This four day long Pongal festivel was celebrated with great fun and frolic by the children and staff of Pathway, Chennai, the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School & Orphanage and the Sabin Centre for the disabled. The first day Bhogi was celebrated by actively cleaning thoroughly living quarters and surroundings. Boys and girls sang and danced around a bonfire using agricultural waste and firewood, which brought warmth during the last lap of ‘winter’. On the second day, Pongal was celebrated by boiling in earthenware pot newly harvested rice in milk, . Children were offered this sweet dish with coconut, sugarcane and bananas. The third day, known as mattupongal, was celebrated with decorating the cows and calves with multi- colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn, and flower garlands. The entire atmosphere was festive with full of fun revelry. Children joined in painting the cow’s horns with bright attractive colours. The fourth day, Kanum Pongal, was celebrated by enjoying delicious food and playing games in the open with great fellowship. In all, Pongal was a celebration of gratitude to The Lord for His bountiful blessings.

Republic Day Celebrations

The 66th Republic Day anniversary was celebrated at Pathway Agro Farm for Children with great pomp and gaiety. The grand displays of talent by the children of the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and Orphanage and children and adolescents of the Sabin Centre for Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled were eye catching and awesome. Children of the Pamela Martinez School were seen to be rehearsing for this big day for almost a fortnight. They had prepared a long programme of nearly three hours to be presented on the eve of the Republic Day. Similarly, boys and girls of the Sabin Centre were also seen to be practicing many program which they were planning to showcase. On this special day the flag mast and the entire area was decorated with colourful buntings and tiny flags. Every child was found sporting a small Indian flag that was affixed on the lapel of their shirts.

The show started with an impressive march-past by nearly 250 children comprising of able and disabled children of the Farm. They marched with precision driven by a rhythmic band that was played by two senior boys. All the children in their neatly pressed clothes marched perfectly past the saluting base, As the national flag was unfurled there showered a copious sprinkling of petals of roses, jasmines and various flowers. This signaled the singing of national anthem which was rendered with great poise and decorum. Prasad taught the children that republic day celebrates the coming in to force of the constitution of India. He also encouraged children to watch the national telecast of the republic day parade and celebrations at New Delhi, where the honorable President of United States was the guest of honour, in the presence of our honorable Prime Minister and President of India..
The children of the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and Orphanage presented a huge variety of program.They were dressed up beautifully and gave short speeches on the struggle of those days against the British rule. Boys and girls regaled the audience with humor and wit with their presentation of skits and dramas in faultless English and Tamil. The entire show was full of great educational value and truly delightful. The songs and dances presented by the children were particularly spectacular and grand.
The children with special needs from the Sabin Centre for Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled did not lag behind in any sphere. They showcased highly enjoyable and loveable program comprising of songs and dances with the theme of patriotism. The skit featuring dances from different states was particularly noteworthy.
After nearly three hours of entertainment and joy, all the children, staff, and invitees were treated to a grand feast.

Republic day was celebrated at Pathway, Chennai in a grand manner. There was feverish excitement in the children as many of them were ready to present a colorful program. Beena was dressed up as mother India, Divya and many other girls were dressed up in their white and colourful chiffons ready to dance to the patriotic tunes selected for the occasion. As the children were called to attention, Sudha Subramaniam was requested to unfurl the national flag. With this the children, staff and everyone assembled sang the national anthem in unison. Children dressed as Gandhi, Nehru, and other great patriots passed by, drawing resounding claps from all assembled. culminating in praising and offering obeisance to Mother India. The event came to a close with distribution of sweets.

Featured Student: Monika

Monika is a responsible, self-directed ninth grade student.  Though small in stature, Monika has taken upon herself the big job of teaching weekend classes in values, songs, and stories to the younger Pathway students.  Also gifted in music, Monika learned to play the piano so she can accompany group singing.  A serious young lady, Monika’s favorite subject is English and she would like to continue her studies and possibly become a teacher.  Her older sister graduated from Pathway and is now in the 11th grade and her brother, Naresh, is currently a 6th grade student at Pathway.