SEEDS of Growth!
Little over two decades ago, Friar Jesu Irudayam, of good memories, while on one of his train journeys, witnessed a child sweeping and begging on the train. Something happened to him that day. Mysterious are the ways of the Lord! He was moved at the sight with compassion. He also found many children on streets, railway platforms, spending nights and their lives on the pavement, estranged from the safe havens of a home and having lost their childhood and exposed to high risk.
Many children at a young age, both from rural and sub-urbs stray and land up in Chennai. They leave their homes and come to the city due to various reasons: to evade school, to escape the harsh treatment by parents and step-parents, passion to meet film stars, looking for job, money and easy life, etc. They are at a very high risk of abduction, child-labour, sexual abuse, drug-addiction, etc...
The love of Christ whose apostle he (Friar Jesu) was and the brotherly spirit of the man of Assisi, St. Francis, whose brother and follower he was, propelled him, irresistibly, from within to do something for these children, to take up their cause, to restore their childhood back to them. Therefore, in the year 1989 he began living with them and sharing in their lives at the bank of Kuvam river (Pudupet area). With the permission and collaboration of our Province and with Mr. Nathan and other committed staff to assist him, he met the many disoriented children and youth on the streets and railway platforms and rag-pickers and motivated and counseled them towards a better and brighter future. Realizing the enormity of their problems and their number Friar Jesu felt the need for an Organization and a home for such children. Thus, Street Elfins Education and Development Society (SEEDS) was registered as society in 1990.
The vision and mission of Nesakkaram-SEEDS is to empower the Street-Children to uphold and assert their human rights, dignity and freedom and to facilitate and assure them their childhood, healthy growth and development in a natural way. Nesakkaram and its ceaseless efforts to ease the aching lives of these little ones are recognized by both the State and Central governments and much appreciated.
To show the compassionate face of Jesus to these little children and to share with them the Franciscan Joy, the society of Friars Minor, offered a house in Nungambakkam as the home for these children. Drawing from their experience of love and care, the children named their new home as NESAKKARAM, which stands popular in the heart of many to this day.
Nesakkaram has been the home of love and growth to many poor, orphan, stray, run-away boys. It has given them their childhood back which was robbed from them by many forces personal and impersonal and has brought to realization their dream of a natural and healthy childhood along with many skills. Nesakkaram has given them quality food, shelter, clothing, education, life skills, discipline, job and many more, along with the joy of a loving home and family. Many of those children are happily settled in life and they come back occasionally to their mother Nesakkaram with warmth, love and gratitude.
Nesakkaram-SEEDS as a society has 15 members in the Staff and 30 part timers, "educators" in the evening centers. To enumerate some of its works
- One of the key undertakings/projects of Nesakkaram-SEEDS is Children Parliament, a movement for children, to educate them in the knowledge of their rightful place in society, their due rights and the ways to obtain them for their own optimum growth and development and that of the society. Nesakkaram has been organizing these Children Parliament Groups in all its evening study centers for the past 10years. We have 29 such groups! With 290 ministers and1020 members spread out in three districts!
- Nesakkaram runs a Cell in Chennai Egmore railway station with two staff to look for and rescue run-away and homeless children who come to the city and trace and unite them with their families. Those who have no one to call their own are taken to Nesakkaram. They also scout other stations like Tambaram, Pallavaram, Mambalam for stray children
- Nesakkaram has also a special department (Nesathai-loving mother) to cater to the upliftment of women in various localities around. It organizes uneducated and unemployed house-wives into Self Help groups. It offers these women groups various trainings, motivational, skill, health and hygiene, women rights, to make them confident, independent and stable, economically and socially. These trainings have enhanced their confidence and have brought them out into the outer larger world beyond the petty world of their homes.
- Nesakkaram has mended the broken lives of many Tsunami victims building them beautiful houses in a place called Athipet on the outskirts of Chennai
- Nesakkaram has been organizing Evening centres in city's slums and backward areas to motivate and facilitate the education of the poor and less fortunate children of these areas.
- At Nesakkaram we have 33 boys (orphans, rag-pickers and very poor children) and at Nesavanam-children village, which is a branch of Nesakkaram-SEEDS, situated in Siruniyam, a village on the outskirts of Chennai city in Tiruvallur District, we have housed 15 such boys.
Thus, something which began in a small way in 1989 is now in its 25th year of service, celebrating its Silver Jubilee. Nesakkaram looks back at the 25 years of its humanitarian love and service with gratitude to God and satisfaction at heart. It has rescued many children, before they fall into the wrong hands and has molded their lives. We, the Nesakkaram fraternity, Children and Staff, thank sincerely the many kind-hearted people and friends of children, from all walks of life and Organizations, especially our Franciscan fraternities all over the world, and very specially MZF( Missionszentrale der franziskaner) for their continual support in sharing the Franciscan joy with the under privileged children of our society.
Our Franciscan Province has been a constant guide and companion in the efforts of Nesakkaram in rendering service to humanity, by providing with personnel and sanctioning and monitoring projects. And we gratefully remember all the Friars who have given their valuable time and energy in offering their generous service for these little ones: Friars Arokiraj Joy Vallooran, Soosai Raj, Vincent Soosai, Lourdu Augustine, Joseph Raj, Thomas A, Michael Anand, Pradeep K, Pushparaj and many friars during their formation period.
This Jubilee year has begun with "Children Parliament Mela on 24th Feb 2014. We have planned various events and activities to mark the Jubilee celebrations and make it memorable.
Nesakkaram has lived up to its name, as an affectionate and caring hand for street and stranded children in the last twenty-five years. Our option for the poor and marginalized made us to spread the Gospel values and the Peace prayer at every nook and corner of our ministry. It's founder and visionary late friar Jesu Irudhayam did the sowing, the Franciscan family did the watering, the friends of children manured it and God gave the Growth! How great are your works, O Lord!
Thank you all for having been part of this mission of God in one way or the other. Congrats to all who made it possible.