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: http://www.auroville.org/
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: http://www.auroville.org/contents/805
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: http://tmp.reach-for-the-stars.org/language/en/students/students-location/
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.