Eye-Opening Incident Pushed Him to Quit Job & Pull Millions of Children Out of Trauma

Education for underprivileged

In 2002, Chennai-native Sriram V Ayer was comfortably working for a corporate firm that paid him well. But in a span of a few months, everything changed. He witnessed the aftermath of Gujarat riots, especially the devastating impact it had on the children. 

During the same period, he came across a boy named Vinod, who was selling agarbattis to make a living. Ayer knew that like Vinod, hundreds of other children were forced to support their families and could not, as a result, pursue their education. 

In 2003, after resigning his job, Sriram put together a foundation called NalandaWay to educate and empower children from low-income backgrounds, as well as those who have lived through the trauma of child labour, disaster, violence, HIV, trafficking, and more. 

NalandaWay is different in several ways. Other than just providing education, the organisation works with children to “achieve through arts” (ATA) and make learning fun. 

“When I asked a group of children why they were disinterested in school and classes, the answers I got were all standard — bored with the way things were being taught, teachers being rude, general lack of any incentive to study and do well,” he says. Sriram took notes from them and built the organisation.

Children here are taught theatre, dance, music, photography, creative writing, storytelling, and film based on their interests. Till date, the foundation has worked with over 10 million students across Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Bihar, and Jammu & Kashmir.

Watch how Ayer is transforming millions of lives the ‘Nalanda Way’:

Edited by Divya Sethu

Author: Aaron Ryan