Tamil Nadu Foundation to Host 2012 Convention in Houston
By Kalyani Giri
HOUSTON: Gathered around a Thanksgiving table in Baltimore and counting their blessings, four young Indian immigrant families reminisced fondly about their native Tamil Nadu. It was a state that they had grown up in, that had given them so much. They pondered on how they could possibly give back to positively impact the lives of the disadvantaged, the uneducated, and those without food or shelter. The year was 1974, and the group deliberated and founded Tamil Nadu Foundation (TNF), a US-based organization that helps fund and promote social, economic, educational welfare, and other charitable projects in Tamil Nadu. The only organization of its kind devoted entirely to the people of Tamil Nadu, the foundation works closely with other reputed organizations in Tamil Nadu; TNF has chapters all over the US and in Tamil Nadu.
In 2012, Houston will be the host city for the TNF’s 37th National Convention to be held at the Hilton Houston North on Greenspoint Drive over the Memorial Day weekend of May 25 – 28. Formally announced by the President of TNF, Dr. S. Deivanayagam, at a dinner meeting at Madras Pavilion on November 20, the choice of this city was based on Houston’s emergence as the Tamil cultural capital of the US. Along with large donations and pledges from local philanthropists and steering committee donors, TNF got a headstart with $103,000 to benefit projects back in Tamil Nadu. Organizers of the TNF convention promise a fun event with cultural programs, vendor booths, and food. The event will culminate with a star-studded banquet, with movie stars, and music, dance and literary artistes from India in attendance.
All proceeds from the convention will help strengthen the fabric of rural Tamil Nadu, said Dr. Padmini Nathan, a steering committee member.
“There are high numbers of drop-outs at rural schools, particularly among middle-schoolers, and we have to find out why,” said DR. Nathan. “The reasons could be a lack of water, or poor sanitation. TNF will address the issues with the authorities and help where we can,” she added. Dr. Nathan lauded the hard work ethic of fellow steering committee member and fundraising teamplayer, Dr. S. G. Appan, a veritable pillar of the Tamil community; Dr. Appan serves as a motivational force behind the convention, added Dr. Nathan. Other members of the fundraising team include Dr. Vaduganathan, Dr. A. K. Subramaniam, and Roopa Bala. Rajan Radhakrishnan will head the entertainment and the cultural committee for the convention.
A video presentation showed children in rural areas struggling for an education against all odds. Economics, unavailability of schools, learning disabilities, transportation, parents’ reluctance and non-belief in education, stymied youth from realizing their dreams. TNF-sponsored schools take a holistic approach to education, offering extra-curricular classes in yoga, music, art, and computer lessons, piquing the interest of children and making them interested in attending to school every day. TNF also sponsors training programs that give youth a chance to learn skills that would get them jobs. The TNF sponsors health programs for the underprivileged, rescues women in prostitution and teaches them alternate job skills, and helps educate girls to prevent them from joining the flesh trade.
The TNF, that prides itself on harboring no bias against any religion, caste, or political beliefs, hopes for the heft of the huge local Tamil community and other local organizations to make the convention a success.
For more information on TNF, membership, sponsorship, or the convention, visit tnfusa.org.