“The condition of young girls inShoolagiri is pitiable. They have to do household chores before rushing to school. With only twobuses plying in the village, chil-dren are bound to miss the class and hence fail in their examina-tions. Once out of school, they are married off, then they are ha-rassed for dowry and later they commit suicide… .”
amuel Venkatesan summedup the life of an average vil-lage girl in Tamil Nadu –from birth to death – for thenext 10 minutes. Listening to the17-year-old’s talk in chaste Tamil was an august audience repre-senting the G8 summit in Rome.On Thursday, Samuel recount-ed all his J8 experiences at a pressconference.He is among the three Indianstudents who represented thecountry in the Junior 8 (J8) sum-mit. Sanjukta Pangi from Orissaand Narendra Kumar from UttarPradesh, his counterparts, spokeon equal rights for the girl child,school transport and quality edu-cation.
Two years ago, Nalanda Way was in Krishnagiri to select stu-dents for training in ﬁlmmaking,an initiative they did jointly withthe UNICEF. “For the audition I was asked to speak on any topicof interest for a few minutes. I ama chatterbox and I spoke asusual,” recalls Samuel, who is theﬁrst person from his village inKrishnagiri district to completesecondary education.Thanks to the training given by the NGO, Samuel already has twoshort ﬁlms –
Nipped in the bud
– to his credit.His other credential: Samuel is astudent reporter and writes for
Vaandu Soundu, a newsletter
cir-culated in schools, Collectorateand other government organisa-tions in the district.
Call for J8
While J8 and his meeting withother delegates will remain a his-tory, Samuel cannot forget re-counting his ﬁrst ﬂight journey.“When I told my mom she was worried,” he says about his moth-er who is a domestic helper inBangalore. “
Plane la pogaatha..adhu thannikulla vizhundirum
..(Do not travel by ﬂight. It will fallinto water),” were Shanta’s initialreactions when Samuel said hehas to ﬂy to Rome. It is his ma-ternal uncle, Ramamurthy, a lorry driver, who supports his educa-tion. He gave him conﬁdence tocarry on.“Rome was very beautiful andthe Italian Parliament was huge. Ialso met Italian Youth Minister.She was always smiling and Iliked her. My ﬁrst dinner there was fun. I was waiting to have agrand feast, but they gave me so-mething like our snacks in smallportions. With that they said thedinner was over,” Samuel jabbersaway innocently.
But Samuel also has an unful-ﬁlled wish, that he missed thechance to meet Prime MinisterManmohan Singh. “My counter-parts knew Hindi and they wereat ease, but everything was Greek and Latin for me. They showedme a piece of paper and told meto sign on it. Only later I realisedSanjukta Pangi was the personselected to meet him,” he smiles.However, he paciﬁed himself saying, “It’s always ladies ﬁrst inour country.” One thing was forsure, Samuel was everyone’s fa-vourite— drawing attention forhis sign language but still min-gling with the guests. For in-stance, Samuel spoke for close toan hour to an Italian Chef, saysSatish of NalandaWay, who ac-companied him to the Summit.
To the point
So, what was Samuel’s learning experiences. “Many. We shared alot, I actually learnt about childright in Rome,” he says. The stu-dent of vocational training, how-ever, is sad that he and many others like him in Indian villagescannot speak English. “When thechildren of developed countriesdemand right to watch movies, we from the developing countriesask for basic education,” he con-cludes, saying he will implementthe action plan of the J8 in hisvillage.
Samuel Venkatesan, achirpy Plus One student of Government Higher Secondary School inShoolagiri, wasthe favourite of the delegatesat the J8 summit held recently in Rome
The“rockstar”of J8 summit
All smiles: Samuel Venkatesan
PHOTO: R. SHIVAJI RAO
Samuel shakes hands withItalian Youth MinisterGiorgia Meloni.
Watch for a cause
Chennai Social Service, an NGO, is selling tickets for Harry Potter and theHalf-Blood Prince for the 8.30 a.m. show on July 19 at Sathyam Cinemas.The tickets are priced at Rs.150 for premium class. The proceeds will gotowards charity. For booking and more details contact,Balaji - 9884734284 or Venkat - 9841550476