The Heaven Foundation, a NGO based in Chem-mann-tharai put together ‘Namma Ooru Thiruvilla,’ a public event more on the lines of a village get-together to mark its second anniversary in the making. The day-long event that had many sports and cultural events for the townsfolk to participate and enjoy, culminated on a stage for the evening where Padmanabapuram MLA Mano Thankaraj presided over.
The other dignitaries at the dais included Paul Thomas - Prime Minister, TN & Pondy Youth Parliment, Abdul Azeem - Professor at NI University, Swarna Lekshmi – a differently able girl who is the Prime Minister of the National Children’s Parliament and represented India at the UNESCO, Percussionist, Ghadam player & Guinness record Holder Abdul Haleem, Dr. Biswajit Alban and others.
The highlight of the evening was the awarding of Momentos and Certificates honouring local achievers from Kanyakumari in recognition of their voluntary and timely service to the Public. They were shortlisted for the award list as achievers in every walk of life including sports, environment, Women’s empowerment and so on we considered for the award.
MLA Mano Thankaraj, who was the chief guest at the first anniversary too last year, shared pride over the activities of the youthful Heaven Foundation and charted the course of the Environmentalism as a Youth Movement in Kanyakumari district.
He showered praises on various youth groups of Kanyakumari, who are filling-in the many voids, plugging-in many holes in Kanyakumari’s Public/social system that neither the Government, the NGOs, Panchayats nor the municipalities have ventured into.
Groups from places like Kanoor - the team behind KK Memes, Dison Duke & his youth club, Pratheesh & friends were some of the recepients of the night’s honour. Some of these youth groups cleaned and restored ponds and tanks all over Kanyakumari; some involved themselves in cleaning the canals that lead to the catchment tanks, others lead voluntary forestation campaigns.
Those of whom that worked incessantly and immersed themselves head-on in the restoration of infrastructure during and after the Ockhi cyclone were also honoured.
There were also a few others whose individual accomplishments stood out in various fields – like Joshua, a 50 year old man who walked across Asia’s tallest aqueduct carrying a 20kg load on a 2ft wide handrail at 600ft. Another could assemble and dissemble a clock in a matter of 10 min while being blinded. All in all, more than 25 people of Kanyakumari who inspired themselves to inspire others were the recipients of Heaven Foundation constituted R3 Awards.
Heaven Foundation started off as a pet project of Justin Raj of Thiruvarambu which has scaled up over couple of years and are pioneering social change through these youth groups and organizations. Apparently, Justin Raj & Pratheesh were the pioneers of the Pond Cleaning projects that directly involved a networked group of like-minded youth from Kanyakumari district and inspired many others to form Facebook group and youth clubs that come together to engage in civic service during the weekends. Justin Raj also runs a monthly Students Magazine called Screener.
The youth in addition to earning their degrees in the colleges around infact have raised themselves to take active interest in social affairs of their own village and town panchaysts. A sense of belonging begins to flower in them and with a few successful social projects behind them, they are growing in confidence and are beginning to find bigger roles for themselves in the social sphere.
With NGOs like Heaven Foundation encouraging youth activism which is finding a big following here in Kanyakumari, the future looks bright for Kanyakumari district taking into account the Social transition in the mindset of KK’s youth.
We’ve just sensed …yeah only sensed….light at the end of the tunnel, when this generation is old enough and builds enough trust around itself to sit in office! For now, the good start is the good news.