PUTHUMANAM DINDIGUL: 2005
La Salle Puthumanam Industrial School beginnings
St La Salle Industrial School was started in 2002 at Dindigul to provide vocational skills training to poor and destitute youth living in acute circumstances in that area. The youth are the most important national asset of any country and the proper training given in their formative years can result in a rich crop of men and women of promise who can not only contribute to their own welfare but be of benefit to the Nation as well. This then was the driving force that led Bro. Sebastian to get involved with the help of Bro. Xavier to do something for the youth of Dindigul. They oversaw the development of the Industrial Training School while still based at Boys’ Village and travelled to and fro to supervise the development. However, as Bro. Sebastian, needed to concentrate all his efforts in providing for the welfare of the children at SJDT he asked that the Delegation to get involved in the project and he handed it over completely in June 2003. Bro. Arulsamy was appointed to take responsibility for the newly begun school. He resided at Boys’ Village and undertook the one hour journey each day to reach Dindigul and to then return again in the evening.
Puthumanam Industrial School provided vocational training to the youth of Dindigul Town and its suburbs. Within the town of Dindigul itself there were 17 slums comprising; West Govindapuram, Sahayamathapuram, Kamarajapuram, Karunanithi Nagar, Kakkan Nagar, and Maruthanikulam to name but a few. Most were unauthorized habitations and in many cases influential people had encroached on government lands and rented them to the poor at exploitive rates. Many dwellers were illiterate and didn’t know about their rights and could not appreciate that education could liberate them from their misery and for many the education of their children was neglected. Many engaged in menial and poorly paid work.
Puthumanam gave preference to admitting poor and marginalized students. Mr. Pun Ravi who was then Principal of La Salle School, Tuticorin was instrumental in securing government recognition for La Salle, Puthumanam. This enabled the school to participate in government certificate courses and offered the students the possibility of gaining a recognized completion certificate on passing the examinations. Bro. John Fernando, President and Bro. Sebastian had the privilege of awarding the certificates to the first batch of graduating students on 14 July 2004. The Brothers from Boys’ Village from where the Brothers had gotten involved in Puthumanam stayed and the children attending St. Joseph’s Development Trust (SJDT) had the honour of being in attendance and witnessing this ‘red letter’ day in the history of the institution.
In a letter dated 11 June, 2004 to the President of the Delegation, Bro. Arulsamy explained the difficulty that he was experiencing in travelling daily from Battalagundu to Dindigul to animate and oversee the running of La Salle School, Puthumanam and asked permission to be allowed to stay over for three nights a week to minimize the travel. At this time too, Bro. Arul Jegan, based at Boys’ Town, got admission to Gandigram Deemed University, Chinnalpatty; to follow an MA in Rural Development and Management. The Delegation Council decided that both Brothers could stay at Puthumanam during the week and return to Boys’ Village at weekends. For this purpose a multipurpose hall that could accommodate a dining hall, prayer room, kitchen and TV. Room was needed. The Delegation agreed to provide two lakhs and Bro. Arulsamy from the savings made at Puthumanam would contribute the remaining three lakhs needed to construct this building that could later become part of the school complex after the Brothers had vacated. Bro. Arulsamy, not having the money immediately to hand negotiated an interest free loan with Bro. Sebastian of SJDT and pledged to return it as soon as he was able. With this new arrangement the chore of having to spend 2 ½ hours each day round trip to and from Boys’ Village to Dindigul was avoided and increased the commitment of the Delegation to the future of Puthumanam Industrial School. The temporary community arrangement was inaugurated on 01 October 2004 with Rt. Rev. Antony Pappusamy, D.D. S.T.D. blessing the new residence in the presence of Rev. Bro. John Fernando, President as Chief Guest and Bro. Sebastian, Executive Director of SJDT in attendance together with the new community members and many well-wishers.
An ad-hoc committee was formed by the Delegation on 11 Sept 2005, comprising the following Brothers; Joseph Fernando, Arulsamy, and Thomas Michael to examine the possibility of combining the various missions in the Dindigul area following the recommendations of a Trust meeting of SJDT held on 9 June 2005. The SJDT Trust proposed that the Brothers based at Dindigul could also take responsibility for supervising Puthuyugam meaning “New Era”, a special project catering for the needs of Street and Working Children. This was a sub unit of SJDT and it also had an office there for all the self-help groups (SHG) of the area and was less than two hundred meters from Puthumanam. The ad-hoc committee was charged with examining the possibility of the Delegation assuming responsibility for all the activities at both Puthumanam and Puthuyugam and the Brothers at Dindigul coordinating the activities of both these institutions.
The committee came up with the following suggestions;
“The Brothers community staying at Puthumanam could start getting involved in animating the programmes connected with the ‘Street and Working Children’ at Puthyyugam with the intention of eventually assuming full responsibility as per the need. The Tuition Centres (Supplementary Educational Initiatives) in Dindigul were integrated parts of the SHG’s organized by SJDT. They were one of many other Social commitments that SHG’s were motivated to assume full responsibility for over a period of involvement. Moreover the SHG’s were involved in a whole range of social and governmental Linkages, Advocacy, and Empowerment. The animation of SHG’s programmes called for special managerial skills, which were non-formal and unspecific in nature. Hence the animation of SHG’s would to be left with SJDT for the time being”.
The committee recommended that the SHG’s should continue to be animated by SJDT for the time being with openness to review and modification at a future date (maybe after three) years.
The Brothers presence at Puthumanam was a temporary arrangement in order to overcome a practical problem of travel from Boys’ Village each day to Dindigul and as such their presence did not have the necessary canonical approval for a religious community. To get that approval they Brothers needed both the permission of the local bishop and the approval of the Superior General. Brothers Mark Murphy, Delegate and Bro. John Fernando drafted a letter to Bro. Alvaro Rodriguez, Superior General requesting permission for a community to be formally established at Dindigul and Bro. John Fernando, President had already written to Rt. Rev. Antony Pappusamy, D.D. on 02 May 2005 requesting permission to establish a community of Brothers in the diocese. Both letters outlined the nature of the work that the Brothers had undertaken in the town of Dindigul at Puthumanam. The letter to Bro. Superior General explained that the bishop was favourably disposed to the Brothers having a community in his diocese and had given his permission. In reply in Protocol No 050519 dated 21 May 2005 the General Council voted unanimously in favour of the request and Bro. Superior approved the community.
The new community was officially inaugurated on 01 June 2005 with Rt. Rev Dr. P. Antony Pappusamy, D.D. as Chief Celebrant in the presence of Rev. Bro. Mark Murphy, Delegate and Rev Bro. John Fernando, President together with the community Brothers and many others in attendance. Later in the same month another ceremony conducted in the presence of Bro. James Kimpton as Guest of Honour, saw the inauguration of a new building block construction on the birthday of Bro. Arulsamy for an addition to Puthumanam Industrial School. This building block was officially opened on 03 December, 2005 in the presence of Mr. R. Vishvanathan B.Sc., Minister for Transport & Electricity. Another ceremony to mark the laying of the Foundation Stone for a new workshop building took place on 04 October, 2005 in the presence of Rev. Bro. Mark Murphy, Delegate and the blessing ceremony was performed by Rev. Fr. Joseph Xavier with Mr. V.P. Radhakrishnan a well- known local business man as Guest of Honour.
LASALLE PUTHUMANAM BROTHERS RESIDENCE- DINDIGUL:
This development took place during the year of Lasallian Pastoral Ministry of Youth 2005 and to mark this historical event, the new Community was named “LA SALLE PUTHUMANAM”. Puthumanam is a Tamil word which means “New Heart”. This community provided Technical education to the rural youth of Dindigul. Puthumanam Industrial School first began as a project of St. Joseph’s Development Trust, started by Bro. I. Sebastian, f.s.c., supported by COMIDE on September 02, 2002. The Industrial School offered the following courses: Tailoring, Computer, Electrical, Auto mobiles, embroidery, typing, coir making and a driving school. There were three Brothers and 112 youth in the institution. In the year 2002-03, when SJDT was restructuring its entire operation for a better viability; a Study Team head by Mr. Bose Cruz; produced a report and the restructuring recommendations were accepted and approved by the Delegation Council that met on February 20, 2003. It was decided that the entire operation of Puthumanam should be under the direct control of the Delegation; in attending to the needs of the youth under the care of Puthumanam Industrial School. And because of the travel difficulties of the Brothers from Boys’ Village each day, who were engaged in the ministry at Puthumanam, the Delegation Council met on April 24, 2005 and decided to open an F.S.C. community from June 2005 for the better viability and of the Lasallian Mission in Dindigul.
NEWS FROM ST. LA SALLE PUTHUMANAM, DINDIGUL March 2008 written to the Brothers of the Delegation.
Dear Brothers and Lay Partners, On behalf of St. La Salle Puthumanam Community and La Salle Puthumanam ITI warm greetings and advanced Easter wishes to you all. Over the last two month our place was graced with more programmes and visitors. Actually our community was involved in three kinds of ministry. We are taking care of Working children, the Orphanage, and the Industrial School. Last month (February) Bro. President made his canonical visit to our community. His visit made our community to be livelier. He inspired us to deepen our three aspects of religious life. So we are very grateful to our Bro. Arockiadoss for his encouraging and pastoral care towards our community.
This month we laid the foundation stone for our Brothers’ residence at our La Salle Puthumanam. Bro. President laid the foundation stone and some dignitaries were invited. We are very thankful to the diocese of Cornol (Germany). Now the construction of the Brothers’ residence is in progress. Hopefully within two months our Brothers will have a separate community residence at Dindigul.
Bro. Jegan organized two camps for working and dropout children of our targeted areas. He conducted one-day camps for the different groups. In particular he organized free medical camp for children. We whole-heartedly thank all the doctors and the medical shops that came forward to sponsor some medicines. More than 200 children benefited through this camp.
During this month we organized a seminar on Emotional Maturity for our Lasallian Youth at St. La Salle Puthumanam ITI. A Sister from Servite Congregation came as a resource person. Thank you Dear Sister. A one-day camp was organized for our La Salle Youth group
It was the one of the busiest months we ever had in this place. As you all knew we at St. La Salle Puthumanam ITI are going to start two more trades under the National Curriculum so we are getting ready for approval. Our staff and Brothers are sparing ever more time to fulfill all the requirements. We hopefully will get approval very soon. So kindly pray dear Brothers for this process to be completed very soon. Bro. Jeyakumar.
He then went on to describe the project and how it was started:
Our Vocational industrial school known as St. La Salle Puthumanam Industrial School was started to provide skill training to the youth of Dindigul Diocese who were in difficult circumstances and for those who lived in the slums and others from neighboring rural areas. At present we provide training for the boys and girls who discontinued their regular studies, drop outs and working children. Our training has been of two types. Those who have not completed 10th standard are admitted for six months training and those who have completed 10th standard are admitted for one year training. These two courses are approved by Tamil Nadu State Government.
St. La Salle Puthumanam Industrial School was started in 2002 in Dindigul Diocese which is 70k.m. from Madurai. Dindigul became a district headquarters in 1982 which before then was part of the old Madurai District. After the formation of a new district the population grew considerably (300,000 inhabitants). Through industrialization and urbanization bringing economic growth and prosperity there was a sudden growth of slums in and around the town.
Our Vocational industrial school known as St. La Salle Puthumanam Industrial School was started to provide skills training for the youth of Dindigul Diocese who were in difficult circumstances and for those who lived in slums and in the neighboring rural areas. At present we provide training for the boys and girls who discontinued their regular studies, drop outs and working children. Our training has been of two types. Those who have not completed 10th standard are admitted for six months training and those who have completed 10th standard are admitted for one year’s training. These two courses are approved by Tamil Nadu state Government.
To make the students employable these past six years we have given them training courses in Electrician Technician, Electrician, Automobile, Bench Fitter, Computer, Cutting and Tailoring and Embroidery. Besides vocational training we have provided training in leadership qualities, entrepreneur skills, social awareness and value formation. We also helped them to find job placement after their training in nearby the factories, offices and industries.
For the past six years of our service to these dropouts and working children we the managing committee of St. La Salle Puthumanam Industrial School, have decided to extend its services to the youth who completed their 10th and 12th standard students and who were willing to learn skills training. Due to their economic problems they were not able to go on for higher studies. Since these youth were left out without care and concern we the De La Salle Brothers have decided to help train them make them and make them employable. We train them in courses of Motor Vehicle Mechanic, Electrician, Fitter and Driver Cum Mechanic. These courses last for two years. After completion of the training the Government of India gives a certificate to the successful candidates who have completed the course and passed the state exam helps them become employable.
Besides vocational training we provide training in leadership qualities, entrepreneur skills, social awareness and value formation. We also help them to find job placements after their training in nearby factories, offices and industries.