Chennai: Teenage is when everyone freaks out and enjoys their life, but Shirly, at the age of 18, started working for an NGO and started understanding the disturbing side of life.
When News Today caught up with Shirly, a 41-year-old writer and activist, who was awarded a doctorate last month for her selfless contribution to society, she said, “When I was 18, I was struggling to pay my college fees and that’s when I started working for an NGO that focused on child empowerment. I used to teach basics to many children who did not have access to education.That is how I started working for society.”
She adds, “After a few years, I got married and the NGO also was shut down, as there was no funding. But I stayed in touch with the children and their parents and then I got to know that their children did not have access to education, even basics, like alphabets and numbers. So I managed to buy some study material and went to the children’s place to teach them as much as I could.”
“In 2005, after I started my own NGO, my friends advised me to register it and I did. After I registered my NGO, Roots, I started taking surveys to know if there are any NGOs working in the area. If there is any such NGO, I will not work in that area. Wherever there are a lot of children who dropped out of school and have no access to education and there is no source of help, that is the place I would prefer working on,” says the activist.
She continues, “For the past few years, many college students have started volunteering to help me in this noble cause. I give inputs to the students on how to teach and the interns are very cooperative and supportive. There are so many students, who drop out from school after 12th standard. This is because they don’t have any scholarship to join college, so, if the government can provide education at a low cost or no cost, the literacy rate would drastically increase and within 5 years, there will be visible change in our country in terms of education. The next generation will be way ahead than the current one.”
Shirly has written four books: Mannum Pennum, Manithanidam Echarikkai, Vidai Illa Kelvi and Penniyam using the pen name Sunitha Shirly. She says that these books talk about suppression and empowerment of women, struggles faced by farmers, sexual abuse and various other issues prevailing in society.
Talking about the solution for such problems, Shirly says, “Family has the solution for these problems. It is the duty of the family to impart good values and create awareness among children from a very early age. Only then, they become good citizens with high moral values and respect for fellow human beings,” she says, speaking from her vast experience in grappling with such problems.
For all her efforts, she was awarded the doctorate by Global Peace University (GPU) the Global Council for Professional Education Mission accredited by Global Accreditation Forum (GAA, IAO USA).
She was conferred the degree of Doctor of Social Work (Honoris Causa) as the founder and managing trustee of Roots Trust.
Former justice of Madras High Court and former member of State Human Rights Commission K Swamydurai, in the presence of Global Peace University advisors John Peter Osborne and Rajan Prasent, actor Arulmani, social activist Jayanthi Raju and V Santhanam, conferred the doctorate on Shirly.