From Chennai Streets to Cambridge, The Inspiring Story Of A Tamil Nadu Beggar

The world has plenty of rags-to-riches story, but this particular tale is one that needs to be read to be believed. It is an inspiring story of grit and determination and the power of human will. It shows that we are the masters of our own destinies. Determined to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty, 22-year-old Tamil Nadu native Jayavel made knowledge his weapon of choice. Jayavel’s inspiring journey started from a pavement in Chennai and through education he went to Cambridge and Italy.

Jayavel’s family moved to Chennai after their crops were damaged in the 1980s. They were forced to beg on the streets to feed themselves. Soon after his birth, Jayavel’s father died and his mother reportedly took to alcoholism. He grew up on the pavements of Chennai and begged for alms with his siblings, so that they could to feed themselves and buy alcohol for their mother.

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The 22-year-old told India Today: “We used to sleep on one such pavement. If it would rain, we would try to find other shelter in any nearby shop until the cops came and chased us out of there.”

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In 1999, Jayavel was spotted begging by a couple, Uma Muthuraman and her husband Muthuraman, who decided to enrol him into a school. The couple were making a documentary on Chennai’s street kids named “Pavement Flower”.

“My people (fellow beggars) actually didn’t like them. They even tried to hurt them as we had so many people approaching us under the pretext of helping. But they only used our name to get government funds,” recalled Jayavel in the interview. But his view changed after seeing Uma’s genuine concern for helping the children.

Through Suyam Charitable Trust, the couple offered Jayavel an education. This was the opportunity that Jayavel needed, and he literally grabbed it with both hands. He has not looked back since.

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“Everyone in the school knew about me and my family. As we used to live right on the corner of the school on the pavement but that didn’t make any difference to me. Though I hated to study in the beginning and only wished to play, my attitude changed as I began to see the difference in life of other people and mine and how Uma and Muthuraman were struggling to educate me,” Jayavel said in the interview.

After finishing Class XII with flying colours, Jayavel cleared the Cambridge entrance exam and enrolled himself for Glyndwr University, Wales where he studied ‘Performance Car Enhancement Technology Engineering’, a course that deals with enhancing performance of race cars. He will now move to Italy, the holy land for race cars, where he will pursue further studies.

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