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ThamizshelvamDear Stephanie,

I have a good news. I have been selected for AcSir (Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research) Abdul Kalam Summer Training Program 2016. It is one of the training programs conducted by the government of India for 3rd year engineering students. Only 20 students are selected for the summer program, while nearly 5000 students from all over India apply. Based on the academic performances and the student’s knowledge they selected 114 students out of 5000. I was one of them. We were called for an interview in New Delhi for the final selection of 20 students for the summer program.

I attended the interview on April 3rd and I was selected! I am so very happy! I need to travel to the CSIR-IICB Research Institute, which is in Kolkata. This is a very famous research institute in India. Dr. P. Jaisankar is going to be our mentor for the duration of this training. I am so happy because Dr. P. Jaisankar  is one of the leading scientist at that research institute. I will be staying there for two months.

I am the only student from the state of Tamil Nadu to be selected for this program. This makes me very proud.

Yours sincerely



Hi! I am Saravanan, a student of Reach for the Stars.

I finished my school in Auroville’s New Creation Bilingual School and After School. These schools are free. My mother paid fees for my other two brothers for their schools. Due to this I was worried: why send me to this school that does not ask for fees? But I realized that I learned more in my school compared to my brothers. I learned to speak and write in English and I understood my subjects well.

My father was drinking a lot that time. Now he went through a program and stopped, but he can’t go for work a week in a month. I saw this and felt that I had to get no help from my parents, because our financial situation is too difficult. After finishing my 10th standard in After School, I wanted to take the science stream, but this was not offered. I went to Kuilappalayam Hr.Sec.School for 11th and 12th standard, and I needed to pay a fee of Rs.350 per month. For me getting only Rs 100 is very difficult . So I searched for a job and took a part time job at night in one of the Auroville guest houses (Auroville is a major part of my studies). There they paid me Rs 1500 a month with a night dinner. From that I paid my fees and I gave the remaining amount to my mom.

Then studying in college became a big problem for me. I knew my family situation is very bad and my parents can’t pay for the college. So I decided that by saving my money from my part time job work we can pay for my college. I calculated how much I would get for a year through my job:  just Rs 18,000. I searched for a course, which cost this much per year. I planned to take B.Sc. Maths.

One day my principal (Shankar from New creation Bilingual School) called me and told me about Reach for the Stars. He also introduced Stephanie to me. Then I explained my and my family’s situation to the RFTS team. They gave me an application form to fill up. I was invited for interviews and I was chosen! Because of the situation of my family and my income I had decided to study Maths, but my dream was to do an Engineering course.

My group (RFTS) helped me to fullfil in my dream. Now I am studying Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) in Villupuram. One year after I joined RFTS, I lost my part time job. If I had got a seat for Maths in any college without getting support from RFTS, I would have had to discontinue.

I am very proud to be a student of RFTS now. I want to thank Stephanie, who is our good messenger for the students and organizer of RFTS. And I thank my sponsor Kailash Mathur. RFTS encourages me to one day help other students like me.

I want to mention more about my sponsor. He is very nice person who worked in industries, an engineer also. He is an Indian, who helps also other students in RFTS and others in his country of origin. If you want read about his interesting life, please check this link:



What difference did receiving a scholarship from Reach for the Stars make in your life? What do you think you would do now, if you had not received the scholarship?

I asked this question to some of our students, here is Poovizhi’s answer, she studies Computer Science Engineering at Mailam Engineering college, she teaches English to some of our students and is the student representative for Edayanchavadi – a smart young woman, brave and very reliable.


Poovizhi: “If I had not received a scholarship from Reach for the Stars, I would have gone for work in a boutique or somewhere else in Auroville. My family asked me to discontinue my studies already when I was in 10th standard.

My father asked me to go for work in order to save money for my marriage and my dowry.  I cried a lot. Seeing this my mom tried to convince my dad to send me back to school. I didn’t like to stay in my house, so I spoke with Sanjeev, the principal of Udavi school. I and my sister were able to stay in Udavi School hostel and finish high school. Khal, who was in that hostel, helped me with my school fees.

I studied French as my second language, so I don’t know very well to write in Tamil but I can speak. So I asked my mother to let me join in a higher secondary school in Pondicherry where they teach French. But due to financial problems I joined Kuyillapalayam Higher Secondary School and they taught only Tamil, no French. I struggled a lot to pass the Tamil exams. Even for my higher secondary school fees I and my mother went to her working place and asked for help. The employer of my mother gave half of the amount and my mother payed the remaining.

Now for my college by gods grace I’ve received a scholarship from Reach for the Stars. Otherwise I couldn’t have fulfilled my dream. I didn’t expect that I would step into a college and study. But now I am studying CSE, as I had wished for and I am one of the top in my class. RFTS totally changed my life in a wonderful way. My education without RFTS would have been terminated. I really thank Stephanie and my sponsor Claudia & Alexander for it.”

blog by Poovizhi, 19


I had visited and stayed in Auroville, an international city in Tamil Nadu and located very near to Puducherry, with my wife Annemarie (of German origin) in the years 1984, 1991 and 1997 and was very pleased with the way things had evolved in Auroville and how people from so many countries and Indians from all parts of India were living together in harmony and to great benefit of all involved. For further information on Auroville visit:

The Aurovillian “Village action group“ had been doing wonderful work since 1983: supporting the villagers of the region to learn vocations, cleaning the villages, supporting the women and giving cheap loans. For more information on village action group go to:
In February 2011 edition of “Auroville Today”, a monthly news magazine of Auroville, I read that a new group called “Reach for the Stars (RFTS)” had been formed and that it was selecting students from the surrounding villages for university education and giving them scholarships and one could sponsor chosen students and remain in email contact with them. This was a perfect scheme for me, as the contact would allow me not only to support students financially, but also enable me to directly influence their personality, life style, thinking, etc.
Thus I have supported since 2011 5 students and have obtained some insight into their life. Two of my first students have already finished their studies and are earning money. One of them will become a medical doctor (Metha) and the other is a software engineer (Meera).  The 3 who are still studying will become aeronautical engineer (Ganesan), electrical engineer (Saravanan) and BA in English literature (Krithiga) respectively.
I have maintained good email contact with the students and that has given me an insight into their life and how the Auroville villages function. It is also a very impressive fact that such a large number of boys and girls from villages are able to receive higher education since 2011. For details on the number of students and location of their villages see the map on RFTS web site:

Earlier, I had also supported a NGO in India, which was pretending to ensure that girls from some villages in Rajasthan would not drop out after 4th or 5th class, but would continue their schooling till 10th or 12th class. But it was neither possible to visit those villages nor possible to check in any other way what was happening in those villages. Such NGOs operate on the basis “just give money and forget about it”! Fortunately RFTS is different!
Supporting students on merit basis is much better option than supporting students on need basis, because at some stage or other the needy students (particularly in higher education) fail and the whole money and effort is wasted. They forget what they had learnt and end up remaining uneducated and even unemployed!  Whereas the RFTS students grow continuously in confidence and stature and one day they will be able to support RFTS and the village economy.

In end I must say that if Auroville has well educated people in the surrounding villages than that is beneficial for Aurovillians as well. Because this increases the rate of growth of economy for all involved, increases harmony and safety in daily life.
So it is a dream come true for me, the students and hopefully for many others.

My name is Kailash Mathur and I am a man of Indian origin living in Vienna, Austria since 1965.


On 18th October we had an open house for the high school students of 11th and 12th grade – our future applicants. It was held to give information about our organisation and our selection process and also our application forms were available. We invited all the students from villages around, Kuilapalayam, Bommaiyarpalayam,  Edyayanchavadi, Kottakarai, Kottakuppam. We had put notices in the highschools of those villages. The team of Reach for the Stars felt that if applicants were helped along with their career choices a few months before they actually apply to colleges, it might pave the way to a more conscious and individual course choice.

I, a student of Reach for the Stars program and other fellow students of mine were helping in the open house program. We sat in groups representing a subject, all the engineering students sat in one place and medical students in one place and so on. So we could guide the applicants and help them select their subject and their college according to their interest.  We also analyzed the students language skills and the connection between their future career and the subject they have opted for.

On that day we were ready by 5 pm and youth started coming and registering their names.  One by one they went to the respective groups according to the subject they were interested in. The group would question the future applicant about his/her future plans and why they selected that career and so on in English to also check the language skills of the youth.

This went very well and we gave a lot of information about the colleges nearby and the courses offered by them. We were expecting many more students. We have planned to have another open house in December and hope we will have many more young people visit and benefit as the once that came this time.

by Arul, October 29, 2015