Alagurajan’s story

Alagurajan lived at the S.C.H.T. Boys’ Home for most of his formative years, from the age of six to eighteen. Like the majority of the boys at the home, Alagurajan had suffered from polio and came from a very poor background. He was nonetheless a very happy boy, growing up in the company of the other boys, benefiting from the guidance and support of Dr Karuna Chelliah and the wardens and learning essential skills which would help him in later life. Like the other boys resident at the home, he was given the opportunity in his spare time to learn many things including woodcarving, cycle mechanics, music, drama and dance. He was educated at school in Palayamkottai and after which he attended college where he completed a tailoring course. During Kathy’s annual visits to the home he was one of the first boys who enthusiastically helped her make the bags and cushion covers which she would later sell back home in the UK for the benefit of all the boys.

In 2003 when Alagurajan reached the age of eighteen he left the boys’ home and returned to his village to live with his family who have a small farm. On the day of his departure he was presented with a sewing machine donated by The Neem Tree Trust, and he now works from his family home stitching clothes for the women and children in his village. He earns 500rps (around £6) a week and stitches about 8 sari blouses a day. There are more than eight tailoring shops in his village which has a population of approximately 500 inhabitants. It is much cheaper for people in this part of India to have their clothes stitched by tailors than it is for them to buy readymade clothes. In the afternoons he helps his mother on the family farm. They have a few cows and sheep and supplement their income by selling the milk from the cows, and selling the lambs after six months.
Alagurajan has grown into an independent adult, living a dignified life, able to earn a living as well as making a contribution towards his family. This has been made possible because he was given a chance by Dr Karuna Chelliah and the Board of Directors, who run the S.C.H.T. Boys’ Home in Tirunelveli. The Neem Tree Trust feels privileged to be able to help the doctor achieve his aim of enabling every boy to live a self-sufficient and rewarding life once they leave the home and return to their villages.