Suriya Sivakumar, the versatile Tamil star is not just into acting and film production, he also makes a significant contribution through social activities, which is the well-known other side of him. He had once said, “Being into social activities is not a service, yet it’s a responsibility. It is my duty to give back to society in whatever little way possible." The motive of Agaram Foundation, which was founded by Suriya in 2006, stands for “wanting to make a difference in the lives of the millions who are not yet touched by education."
The foundation is doing justice to its name. In 2018, Agaram Foundation hosted a book launch called ‘Aram Seiyya Virumbuvom’ at the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai. The book made a big impact on its readers which told the story of those from the lower strata of society who reached the top with educational assistance - their background, their family environment, what their homes look like, what obstacles they faced and how their lives changed later.
Until 2019, according to sources, more than 3,000 students have had access to higher education through the Agaram Foundation. Of which, 54 of them are doctors, 1,169 of them are engineers and 90 per cent of them are first generation graduates. Actor Suriya had also once said, “This educational path has taught me that the world is not the only thing that is visible to our eyes." Students who are suffering after loss of parents and struggling for further education are the ones to be lifted up in the society. At an event, the actor once pointed out Krishnaveni, who is currently serving as a medical officer in the Indian Army. The student did not even have money to buy the application. A little help done at the right time has made her a doctor in the Indian Army today.
Krishnaveni, who hailed from a poor family in Karur, has been serving as a Army medical officer in Kashmir. Unfortunately, she lost her parents when she was in Class VII. With the sacrifice of her brother and timely help from teachers, Krishnaveni secured 196.75 cut-off in Class XII in 2011. Her poor background initially prevented her from pursuing her medical studies. When Agaram Foundation decided to lend her help, she pursued her dream at a private medical college in Trichy district. Soon after, she got an opportunity to serve as a medical officer in the Indian Army. While Krishnaveni stands to be an inspiring icon today, there are many more ‘Krishnavenis’ that Agaram has sculpted. Many institutions also offer free seats and hostel accommodation to students who come out of Agaram.
Although founded by Suriya, the Agaram Foundation involves hundreds of volunteers who work for the education of the poor students beyond their own missions. There are donors who fund the future of the poor students.
In 2014, Suriya started ‘Thai’ to identify special talents and skills in students who fail in the board exams. Agaram does not only help those poor students who score high in exams. It also helps those from remote tribe villages where education is mostly disconnected, who get even forty percent marks to get their a chance at higher education.
The foundation has a unique way of selecting applicants for higher education assistance, where the points are allotted for students with various backgrounds like losing parents, the Dalits or tribal community, first generation graduate from the family to attend college, Sri Lankan Refugees, and the criteria goes on. Suriya says he owes a lot to the core group of hundreds of members who lend their time to help the hapless children shine in life.