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The Inspiring Story of One Boy Who Went from Begging in Chennai to Studying Engineering in Wales

Jayavel Chinnaiah recently completed a course in Performance Car Enhancement Technology Engineering from Glyndwr University in Wales. This might not seem like much, but what makes this 22-year-old’s story special is that not too long ago, he was living and begging on the streets of Chennai.

Following a failed crops season in the 1980s, his family moved to Chennai from Nellore to start a new life. Having no other livelihood option, they had to start begging to sustain themselves.


Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr

But things were only getting worse with every passing day. Jayavel soon lost his father and his mother turned into an alcohol addict. The little money that he did earn went into feeding her habit.

What changed the trajectory of his life was a meeting with Uma Venkatachalam. She, along with her husband Muthuram Narayanaswami, had started the Suyam Charitable Trust back in 1987 to help educate children rescued street children. Jayavel was one of the several children rescued over two decades from the streets of Chennai. It was while working on a movie on children who beg for a living that Uma came across him.

“My people actually didn’t like them. We even tried to hurt them as we had so many people approaching us under the pretext of helping. But they only used our name to get government funds,” Jayavel told India Today.

They soon realised that Uma wasn’t out to con them. She took Jayavel under her wing and sponsored his education. Even though he wasn’t keen on studying initially, he was inspired by the efforts of the organization and decided to work hard. His efforts paid off; he performed well in his Class 12 board exams. This encouraged some donors to come forward and fund his education further with interest-free loans.

The course he recently completed at Glyndwr University cost about Rs. 17 lakh.


He has now applied for an advanced automotive engineering course in Italy’s Politecnico Di Torino, which will cost another Rs. 8 lakh. Such funding meant to encourage such students to fulfil their dreams is difficult to come by. But the best option is for people like Jayavel, who have benefited this way, to put money back into similar work.

“Jayavel will have to repay the Trust close to 20 lakh spent on him so far and this money will be used to fund other children who qualify to study in expensive higher education courses,” Uma told The Economic Times.

Jayavell, a role model for his community now. He continues to visit his mother who still lives on the streets. He dreams of becoming successful and having the means to pay back his loans, and hopefully helping the people who changed his life.

Visit here to know more about Suyam Charitable Trust and donate towards their cause.

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