Charity can mean different things to different people, but for Loganathan, it has only one meaning—an opportunity to serve others.
Born in a family of daily-wage labourers, he could not study beyond Class 6 because of financial constraints.
“I was 12 when I began working in paper mills and workshops. I don’t want any child to face such difficulties and give up on their dreams, so I do whatever I can to help,” he says, speaking to The Better India (TBI).
Motivated by personal hardships, the 52-year-old has been cleaning toilets for the past 17 years to earn extra money that can help fund the education of underprivileged children.
Every day, Loganathan finishes his welding work and heads to clean the bathrooms of private companies in Coimbatore.
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“People associate a lot of shame to this job of cleaning washrooms, but I feel nothing of that sort. Is it shameful that I am contributing to the sanitary hygiene of hundreds of people who use them, or is it a shame that I use the money to help hundreds of children have a better future? It is those people who need to feel shameful for their narrow ideas!” he asserts.
A native of Kannampalayam, Coimbatore, he started the initiative in 2002, and began collecting clothes and books from well-to-do families to distribute them to orphanages. In addition to this, he continues to send Rs 10,000 every year to the district collector of the city to be sent to government orphanages and has also been instrumental in providing primary education to almost 1,600 students living in orphanages.
Nothing in life is simple, though. Despite his noble intentions, Loganathan had to face criticism from all directions for the one hour job he does after his welding shift. “Friends and family were not happy with the work I was doing. Many even stopped talking to me, but I didn’t let it bother me. I began by earning Rs 50 for an hour, and it eventually increased to Rs. 2,000 every month and all of it goes to the orphanages,” he adds. Loganathan’s reasoning was pretty basic, less labour, more money in less time, and this forward-thinking man did not let taboos, stigmas or even the taunts from friends stop him from doing what he believes in—education for all.
To help support his family and his vision, he managed to start his welding shop in 2018, as his previous employers were skeptical about his part-time toilet-cleaning job.
“I did not want to be fired from work and then struggle to find a balance between my family and the orphanages. I can never choose between the two. My workshop now allows me the flexibility to continue cleaning toilets, without any judgement,” says the man.
After years of good work, the criticism has faded, and many of his family members feel proud of him. “My daughter is now studying in Class 12, and my son is doing his MBA. I hope that they keep helping others after I am gone,” says Loganathan, who dreams of creating a charitable, educational trust in the coming future to ensure that poor children of Tamil Nadu never have to compromise on education for the lack of funds!
Loganathan’s inspiring journey is a testimony of how a common man can bring a sea of change by doing instead of just speaking that no work is beneath anyone.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)