Efforts Do Pay – A Child Worker Goes to America For Media Studies
A child worker of North Chennai is packing his bags to go to America for specialising in media studies. Mohammed Sherief, now 21, had migrated across all sorts of odd jobs, from carpentry to distributing marketing handbills, since he was eight, earning sometimes as low as `15 a day. Most part of his childhood went in search of one square meal a day for his family.
Father Gowsmoideen would not care, so mom Meera slogged on her sewing machine to add a few rupees to Sherief’s wages. He had quit school but made sure his younger sister Nisha continued studies. “The one thing that kept me going through all those depressing moments was dance. And mom my angel on earth”, said Sherief.
He had heard about a NGO called Arunodhaya conducting dance competitions in his neighbourhood and got on their stage. Not only did he win prizes but also got help from the NGO to resume schooling, even bagging the ‘child scientist’ award thrice.
“There wasn’t enough money even for food, so where is the question of joining dance classes? I developed my own style. I was passionate about acting too”, he said.
Along with friends Deepan and Mala, he formed the ‘Nanbargal Kalaikuzhu’ to give performances for local festivals and private functions. The group got `600 as its first payment during a Pongal festival but since then, became a popular outfit by word of mouth.
“We get many offers now, including the recent annual conference of BSNL staff in Chennai”.
The group also gives free dance lessons to the poor kids in the neighbourhood. “We want to give back to society. We also hold one free performance every month on child rights issues in colleges and other institutions”, said Sheriff, who is now studying 3 D animation with the money he earned through his dance.
He still works part-time earning Rs6000 a month in a courier firm but hopes that his US scholarship will change life for him and his dance troupe.
Want to wish Sherief bon voyage? He is on 9171832227