A Visakhapatnam cop committed to making a social difference in today’s world, Sampath Narayana Pilla believes in starting at the grassroots level by focussing on children. Here’s all about his ‘Let’s Live’.
A constable, working at the Commissioner Office in Visakhapatnam, Sampath Narayana Pilla is a man on a mission. “I come from a middle-class family, and my parents used to run a retail store. I often observed them helping poor people who walked into the store. Inspired by their attitude and by Superstar Rajnikanth, my idol, I started a charitable trust named ‘Let’s Live’. This trust is primarily centred on child education, because I believe that educating children will ultimately improve the world itself,” he explains.
In 2015, Sampath and his friends formed Let’s Live in Visakhapatnam, a government registered trust. “We released a short film in which we placed a message asking people to get in touch with us if they knew any child in need of support for education. We received ten enquiries, out of which five were verified to be genuine,” he elaborates.
Sampath shares the story of a young national athlete; who had won 4 gold medals, a silver, and bronze at the international level. However, the sudden demise of his father left the boy bereft of any support. Let’s Live in Visakhapatnam, not only funded his education but also his sports training. Ensuring that the money is not misspent, the trust pays the fees of the concerned student directly to the institute. They also keep tabs on the student’s progress. Also, taking efforts to the next level, they motivate beneficiaries to help others as well.
“Once they get a job and are successfully settled, we encourage them to spend on small things to help other children. This could range from stationery to other things that students need, but cannot afford. We also ask them to send a photograph of this as I believe that any assistance given should be announced, only to inspire others to do the same,” he says.
The library initiative
The group is also currently in the process of setting up libraries at Government schools in the State. Their target set at establishing a hundred libraries, he tells how it all started. “We wanted to conduct career guidance sessions for the students as most of them do not know what to do after 10th and Intermediate. But permissions were not being granted. Hence, we decided to approach the students in a circuitous manner, via a library. Did you know that each government school has an allocation for a library, a library in-charge, and a digital library? When we offered to fund and maintain the library, we were welcomed. We arrange for people from various job profiles to visit the schools and interact with the students directly in their ‘library’ period. We have had a Robotics workshop, entrepreneurship workshop, interaction with an Army officer, etc. Our aim is to motivate students to take up various professions and not be restricted to agricultural or menial jobs.”
Overcoming social hurdles
As a constable, Sampath is very cautious that his cause should not have an adverse reflection on his job or department. “Being from the police department, any donation to the trust can be misunderstood to be a bribe. So only people who know me personally contribute to trust. Most of the funding has been from my savings and a loan of Rs 5 lakhs, that I took. When anyone offers to donate money, I ask them to donate directly to the requirement. We place a ‘wish-tree’ in each school. On the paper leaves, students write their name and any school-related item that they need. It is usually small things like crayons, pencil boxes and such. I want donors to directly grant these small ‘wishes’.”
Not content with just helping children, Sampath has also forayed into the start-up world. His team, in association with AP Innovation Society, arranges workspace and financial assistance for entrepreneurs.
But there is a rider. “We donate to start-ups which are working for the betterment of child education, agriculture, and rural development. Once the product is ready to be launched in the market, we connect the entrepreneur to government officials or directly to the farmers who will benefit,” he clarifies.
All his efforts eventually lead back to his primary goal of empowering children. And emphasising on this he says, “I do not want children to beg. Instead, I would like to forever help fulfill their requirements”, The founder of Let’s Live in Visakhapatnam sings off.