Years of Experience
Murugan was born as the only son to a poverty-stricken couple who were day labourers at the local tea plantation, working for minuscule wages. They were descendants of migrant workers from Tamil Nadu, a state in South India. His mother had roots from Sengottai town in Tenkasi district where she had received pre-degree education (Rayampettai, Kambam) whereas his father’s clan had been residing in Idukki even before independence. Murukan was admitted to St. Pius X English School Kuttikanam as a result of his mother’s determination to give him quality education. But poverty forced his father to move away , seek
a job and the trivial wages to keep the home fires burning. They couldn’t even afford to buy him shoes the lack of which was making his legs sore at the campus. When it finally came down to either bread or decent shoes he had to forsake studies and pursue daily labor. He was thus subjected to child labor during his growing years.
It was when he had turned 9, his family moved to a ghetto in Ernakulam where he continued working as a mason. He had difficulty conversing in Malayalam in the beginning. He often had to appease his hunger with the leftovers from bakeries at Menaka. Hope first came to him as Brother Mavooris from CMI Church. He was a true source of inspiration. Murugan recalls him as a Santa-like figure who used to come visit the children of streets with a bag full of candies. He found shelter in Palluruthy Agathi Mandiram, Don Bosco child line and Sneha Mandiram respectively. He had met another humanitarian, Anand, while his stay at Don Bosco. Joint efforts with Brother Mavooris and Anand, rescued more than 5000 people from the streets. His fervor for helping the people in need often led him to save more than 100 children a day!
Even though he resumed his education through National Open School, the certificate he attained for 10th standard was not valid as per the Government of Kerala. However, he learned Malayalam during this period. Murugan found himself being interested in sports. He won 1996 All Kerala Boxing Amateur Championship title in Sub Junior level. He tried his hand at wrestling and soccer too.
Murugan’s family had built a make-shift home with rags and plastic sheets. His mother still struggle to make ends meet, working as a scrap collector. Murugan was a newspaper boy selling Rashtradeepika, Kerala Mid day Times, Malayalam Kochi etc. with the commission of 25 paise per issue. The days of hardship and poverty had ignited in Murugan a strong desire to help children like him. He wished no other kid a childhood similar to his. With 153 Rs. in his pocket, he laid foundation to something that changed his and thousands of others’ lives. ‘Theruvoram’ was established on January 24th 2007.
Over the course of 16 years, 25,000 people including elderly, women and children were rescued and rehabilitated to safe havens of ‘Theruvoram’. 500 children with mental health issues due to trauma were hospitalized under his guidance. People who have been rehabilitated at various shelter homes were thoroughly inspected by Murugan and his team every once in a while. At 26 years of age, he received an award from the State Government for his contributions to Women and Child Development in 2012. His efforts were constantly applauded by the Government. He was even offered a secure job at the Forest Department. He gently rejected the offer as he had no plans to change his focus from humanitarian services. Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister of Kerala back then provided a plot for building him a house.
Murugan envisioned a wider rescue mission associating with the Government of Kerala. As a result of his repeated proposals, he finally succeeded in collaborating with the state. He was provided with 1 acre of land in Kakkanad for establishing the rehabilitation centre. This was the birth of ‘Theruvuvelicham’ campaign. The foundation of this project on May 16th 2013 was nothing less than history in making. It was the first time in Kerala that an NGO was successfully co-operating with the Government. During his tenure, he built a warm relationship with many kind-hearted Government employees. 1947 people were rescued and given shelter to through ‘Theruvuvelicham’.
Humanitarian activities were not a walk in the park for Murugan. It was often risky as he had to stand tall against numerous life-threatening encounters in his journey. Rescuing children from labor, begging and sex trafficking took more than being good at heart since these illegal deeds were led by mafias and dangerous gangs. He had to be rebellious, daring and went out on a limb many a times. Murugan has a family that stands by him through thick and thin. His wife, Indu. R, is an MBA degree holder in finance and a budding woman entrepreneur. Their son, Harishankar, is in 4th standard at ‘Chinmaya Vidyalaya’, Kandakkadavu.
Murugan is determined to put an end to child-begging and labor. His new office is starting in Thuravoor, Alappuzha, with a view to widen the horizons for children everywhere. He wants to delve deep into the root of this social problem and find solutions that are effective and practical. Currently, he does not receive any fund from Government authorities. Most of his humanitarian efforts rely on his own financing and personal contributions from well-wishers.
There are lives that make no mark on the face of the earth… lives possessing all the luxuries but never making any difference… lives that are fortunate and privileged, yet merely spent and sent to oblivion…
Pattanakkad Panchayath, Padmakshi Kavala, Mother Theresa Lane,Gurudeva Junction , Cherthala Dist, Kerala, India.
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