He is just 12 years old. He hails from Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district, far away from the hustle and bustle of any big city. But, this young lad is now an inspiration for many in the country. Coming from the nomadic Narikuruvar community, Sakthi is the youngest of the 169 children nominated for the International Peace Prize for Children 2017, an award previously won by Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai; reports The Quint. And Sakthi gets this nomination after he made it possible for 25 tribal children from his community to join the school. Sakthi, once himself a school dropout, convinced the tribal families to send their children to school.
At the age of eight, Sakthi had to leave studies after being repeatedly abused by teachers in government schools. He resorted to begging and selling beads, thereby making a living for his family. But, things changed for him after an NGO called ‘Hand-in-Hand’ approached families of Sakthi’s community to send their children to their training sessions, as reported by The Quint. The programme was partly managed by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan whose aim was to include dropouts to mainstream education, adds the report. Sakthi’s family was one of the few families to agree to the terms of the NGO.
Sakthi’s habits and his way of living has made many families to make up their mind. “When I go looking so decent during Diwali or Pongal, other parents see me and ask where I am from. I tell them I eat well, sleep well and study well. I tell them that if we study well then we don’t have to slog it out in the fields. That convinces other parents, and they want their children to join the school as well”, Sakthi was quoted saying by the Quint. This 12-year-old is seen as a catalyst of change the NGO. “Sakthi not only transformed himself but he also brought a great change in his community. That is why we decided to nominate for the award. He is the youngest amongst all 169 nominees for the award,” says Dr Kalpana Shankar, the NGO’s co-founder.