A Different Kind of Grubby

My Transformation
From a school dropout to owner of a two-wheeler workshop

My Story

As a 20 year-old in Mukkurumbai village, in Polur Taluk of Tiruvannamalai district, life was tough. My parents, who were were landless labourers, borrowed money to get my two elder sisters married. That left us in debt. I had to quit school.

I then left my village and headed off to the nearby town of Arni to join a friend from school. He was a motor mechanic and had a workshop. I became his assistant so I could gain skills and earn money to support my family. The same year, SST adopted Murrukurumbai village to carry out development work. My mother joined a self-help group and started saving money. She purchased a milch cow with the help of a loan arranged by the self-help group.

Her involvement with SST made me curious and I began to attend meetings, and in July 2016 joined them. SST began motivating and encouraging me to start a workshop in Mukkurumbai so residents in the village and nearby areas could benefit. While I had worked in Arni for a year and briefly in Chennai, I could hardly save any money.

SST, and CDO Ms. Annalakshmi, helped me get a bank loan of Rs. 20,000 to get me started. This proved a turning point as I was able to set up a two-wheeler repair shop under the name of M.M.M., which stands for Murugesan Manikandan Mukkurumbai.

Today, I have plenty of reason to be happy. I am working in my own village and so my expenses are much less. I am earning about Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000 a month. I also employ an assistant to help me. I am aware this isn’t enough and am, therefore, keen to develop my business.

The SST Way

Community Development Officer S. Annalakshmi who motivated and advised Manikandan to start his two-wheeler repair workshop

We  adopted this village in 2014. We started with women’s self-help groups. They helped us organise many health and other This is how Manigandan’s mother got involved. 

As part of our efforts to motivate youth in the village, we identified those who were unemployed and offered them skills training and assistance in securing loans.

We helped Manigandan and others form a Joint Liability Group. Later, we got Manikandan a bank loan to help kickstart his two-wheeler workshop. His mother’s involvement with self-help groups that SST helped set up, went a long way toward gaining his trust.

It is difficult to make people in villages take the plunge. I am happy that Manigandan took our advice and has become an example for others in the village.

While he isn’t right now willing to think about completing his education, we are trying our best to motivate him to complete his studies.

Still, we do feel a sense of accomplishment as we succeeded in making him understand the virtues of opening his own workshop in his village. We managed to impress upon him the opportunities around him and the savings he would achieve by working locally.

Our Takeaways

We found orientation meetings involving SST and government officials interacting with villagers useful in getting people to believe in us. Sharing information about our activities and past experiences helped generate interest.

Using a single person’s transformation as an example to demonstrate the benefits of a certain program or idea has proved to be effective in converting others. It clinches the deal.

It take two to three years to achieve visible changes, especially when it comes to introducing new technology or methods.