Dr Suniti Solomon documented the first cases of HIV infection in India in 1986 and set up the country’s first voluntary counseling and testing services while she was a professor at Madras Medical College. She went on to found the Y. R. Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education [YRG CARE] rendering yeoman service in HIV prevention, treatment, research and education) for three decades. The many accolades to Dr. Solomon after her passing included this tribute from the United States Agency for International Development [USAID].
Right from the time she started working, Suniti Solomon funded the education of the children of her maids, cook, gardener, and others in need who worked in her institution. Education was dear to her heart, as was the welfare of women who had to fight for their rights in what is very much still a patriarchal society. Here is a short video clip of Dr. Suniti Solomon speaking on the great need to empower women in India on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2012. Drawing examples from her own life – she was the only sister to seven brothers – she mentions about how she fought her way into medical college against the odds that were stacked against women:
If Dr. Solomon had not gone into medical college, what would the course of HIV infection have been in India? It is a sobering thought.
Today, there are many bright young girls like Suniti Solomon who are eager to become doctors and who have the potential to achieve great things the way Dr Solomon did. But they are hampered by lack of funds to pay the costs of going through medical college.
The Suniti Solomon Educational Fund’s mission is to identify such talented young women who have the scholastic credentials and show professional promise, but lack the money that is required for a medical education. The number of women we would help depends on the funds collected. The candidates would be rigorously screened to meet our criteria. At present, our aim is to assist women who have been admitted to one of the following medical colleges in Chennai:
Every year approximately around the month of June, we will provide the necessary funds to the candidates who have been selected to enable their education for that academic year. Thereafter, donations received by us will accumulate in the separate account that we have set up for this specific purpose until next June, when the funds would again be applied towards the medical students for the next academic year.
We are in the process of setting up a full-fledged foundation, and this page will be updated as that aim is achieved.
For those who would like to commit to sponsor a candidate from the time of her entry to medical college till the time she graduates, we will provide a photograph of the candidate and a brief annual report of her progress.
If you would like to contribute, please click here
Those who reside in the United States of America and would like to help, please click here
Education was dear to Dr. Suniti Solomon’s heart, as was the welfare of women who had to fight for their rights in what is very much still a patriarchal society. She often spoke of how the odds were stacked against her when she applied to study medicine: the notion that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, that women were too weak-minded to deal with the gruesome side of clinical medicine, and so forth. She not only overcame those odds but went on to be the leading pioneer in tackling one of the most dreaded diseases in the world, AIDS.
Dr. Suniti Solomon strongly believed strongly that educating women and empowering them would contribute to a better India and a better world. Accordingly, the Suniti Solomon Education Fund identifies and supports women who are academically bright and want a career in medicine but cannot afford the college expenses.
The Suniti Solomon Education Fund is assisting the following young women from low socio-economic backgrounds with funds to complete their medical education and become doctors. All of them demonstrated the highest levels of academic excellence at their schools.
Devayani, a physically challenged girl, studied in Thimpampatti, a village in a forested area outside the city of Salem. She has a younger brother and her parents (contract labourers paid on a daily wage), were unable to fund the education of both their children. However, by her hard work, Devayani was able to secure admission to the Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College in Salem in 2016. Devayani feels that being a physically challenged person herself will help her emphathize more with patients, and looks forward to the day she can practise as a physician. We are proud to support her medical education.
Bhuvaneswari’s childhood ambition was to become a doctor. She came from a poor family in Thiriyalam village in Vellore District; both parents worked as contract labourers for daily wages. Even though medical education seemed out of her reach, she worked hard to achieve the academic standards required for admission to medical college. She was able to secure a seat at the Government Medical College in Vellore. Her sister Tamilarasi also harboured similar dreams, and the parents were simply unable to pay for the medical education of two daughters. Bhuvaneswari was helped in the first year of medical college by donations from a friend, and managed the second year with funds donated by local businesses. We will now support her education from her third year until graduation.
Tamilarasi is the younger sister of our previous candidate, Bhuvaneswari. She was admitted to Chennai Medical College, a private medical college in Tiruchirapalli via the government quota, and managed with help of donations from friends, but that left the family deep in debt, and she thought she would have to drop out of college and even contemplated taking her life, so great was her passion for medicine. The Suniti Solomon Education Fund has agreed to support her expenses partially (covering tuition and caution deposit fees). After becoming a doctor, Tamilarasi hopes to join the Indian Administration Service (India’s civil service) and join the Health Ministry to contribute to the formation of health policy and its implementation at the grass-roots level.
Kiruba Magdalin studied in the government school in Pethapampatti, near Udamalpet, and finished her high school with distinction in Namakkal, despite personal illness and illness in the family. Kiruba’s personal philosophy is that since the family made such sacrifices for her, she would become a doctor and not only help her family and other patients, but also raise the family’s social status by becoming its first member to achieve higher education. Kiruba Magdalin has just received admission to Thanjavur Medical College. We are pleased to offer her financial support.
Mittapalli Village in Krishnagiri District is where Mani Bharati grew up. Her father is a fruit seller and mother a home maker. She has an elder brother who has studied engineering but is yet to find employment. Mani Bharati completed her high school at the government higher secondary school in neighbouring Uthankarai, and through her high academic grades, was accepted at the Stanley Medical College, Chennai. She ran out of funds when she reached the pre-final year of the medical course. We will sponsor her education until her graduation.
Nasrin Saleem is from Mandapam in Ramanathapuram District. Her father operates a mobile roadside food stall and her mother is a factory worker. Most of their income goes towards reducing their accrued debts. Their desire – that their daughter should come up in life – made them encourage Nasrin to work hard, and her high grades earned her admission to Thanjavur Medical College. We will now assist her with her medical education.
Saridha’s parents work in a salt factory. She saw them come home late every day from work, and her mother doing the housework even when worn out. She knew of their hopes that she would have a better future, and her hard work got her admission to Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) Medical College. We are happy to help her with her medical education.
Through her bright academic performance in the local government higher secondary school, Gokulpriya obtained a seat in Stanley Medical College, Chennai. Her father abandoned the family and is not providing any kind of support to them. Her mother is an agricultural labourer and she has a younger brother who is in school. We are supporting her with a scholarship so that she can complete her medical education.
Puratchi Kodi’s father was a farmer but is currently unemployed; her mother is a home maker. She was able to complete her schooling through donations, including from the head of her school who had faith in her academic abilities. She has obtained admission in Stanley Medical College, Chennai. We are glad to sponsor her medical education.