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Giving Back to Community: Homeless Youth in Chennai Teaches Street Children Who Cannot Afford Online Classes

Image for representation (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Image for representation (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Solomon decided to do something for the poor children in his community because he understood that the with schools shut for months, the children might lose interest in education, especially since they didn't have the luxury of owning a smartphone.

Living on the streets himself, 22-year-old Solomon has always understood the difficulties children from his community face. The lack of facilities, especially resources for education made him give something back to children from his community and thus, surrounded by at least 15-20 children aged between 6 to 14 years of age every evening, Solomon teaches them.

Some sit with arithmetic, some study languages while some sit and chat verses in the Thirukkural as well. Sitting on a raised platform at Singer Street in Broadway and flanked by the children, Solomon started this venture during the coronavirus lockdown when he realised that there was no other way these poor children can stay in touch with their studies if they are not going to school on a daily basis, the New Indian Express reported.

Solomon decided to do something for the poor children in his community because he understood that the with schools shut for months, the children might lose interest in education, especially since they didn't have the luxury of owning a smartphone and thus couldn't afford to attend online classes. "When I started the tuitions, the children came reluctantly, but it has now become a regular affair. Now, even if I’m unable to take classes for a day, the children call on my mobile phone and ask why I haven’t come,” TNIE quoted Solomon as saying.

Two generations of Solomon's family have lived in a makeshift tent. His father was a loadman and his mother worked as a domestic help.

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Living on the streets for so long, Solomon considers the children and their families his own. The only one from his community to start college, Solomon is greatly respected by the parents of the other children and they see him as an inspiration for their children too.

However, his dad's ill health forced Solomon to discontinue his studies at the Pachaiyappa’s College for the BA in Economics after the first year. He has since been working and supporting his family.

"I only teach up to Class 8. Now, I’m more confident, but earlier I was scared of getting the concepts wrong. So I would train myself whenever I had time," Solomon reportedly told TNIE.

But Solomon says that he knows now that there might be a few mistakes here and there but keeping the children interested in continuing their studies is what matters most of all.

Children he teaches are all from Classes 2 to 8 and all belong to the corporation and government schools. Solomon goes to two different places for two different batches, one at Singer Street and the other at Ratan Bazaar on alternative days.

In the first place, the teaching area is a makeshift tent which is actually a student's house while in Ratan bazaar, Solomon sits on a platform off the road and the children study, but often distractions are plenty.

Solomon is however looking for more people to volunteer to teach or provide space to help with accommodating the students.

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