Pughazhenthi is a ‘toe painter’ and a craftsman. He uses his skilful feet and creative flair to create beautiful handicrafts and unique paintings. Despite being born without arms, he has also won a gold medal winner at the swimming competition for the differently abled convened by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and holds a Masters in Economics to boot. While his admirable motto for life, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, has certainly got him far, support from HOPE foundation has been instrumental in his achievements.

Here, Pughazhenthi practises his skills at the Manpower Vocational Training Centre in Nagapattinam, one of two successful centres that HOPE foundation established back in 2004. Together with its sister centre in Tharangambadi, the Nagapattinam centre delivers vocational training courses to young people from the region. 8,000 youngsters have learned new skills here, which are enabling them to secure livelihoods in the fields of computing, masonry, tailoring, mobile phone repairs and electrical services. So why did HOPE foundation choose to focus its attentions here?

The district of Nagapattinam was struck hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Those who previously depended on fishing for an income were left without resources; many lacked the skills to pursue alternative livelihoods. In response, HOPE foundation formed a partnership with the recruitment and workforce management company Manpower, which offered the financial resources required to establish these important training centres through its CSR division. This image was part of a series that highlighted the non-profit’s long-term response to the tsunami in cooperation with its CSR partners, and demonstrated how it had assisted the economic recovery of the region while empowering individuals along the way. By visually conveying Pughazhenthi’s resilience and willpower, this particular image inspires hope and determination in others.


Skills that open doors

Disaster response, disability, education, inclusivity

HOPE foundation

Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India

Camera settings
34mm, ISO 1000, 1/160, f/5.6