Mr. Ayyappa Siginam
Ayyappa Siginam belongs to a below poverty line family from Vaidana Village of Prakasam District Andhra Pradesh. He lost his father at a very young age of 10 years old. From then he had his elder sister and mother to support him. But, at the age of 12, he lost his sister. From then it became difficult for him to continue his studies. He used to go to work in fields to earn money for his expenses. He was shifted from a private school to a government school in his village. Working in fields and pursuing education he became topper of the school in his class 10 results. With the help from his single mother and many supporters, he joined intermediate but struggled a lot both academically and financially. He was advised by his teachers and well-wishers that intermediate in a corporate college is the only way to get a bright future. He then with a lot of struggle, with the savings by working in fields and loans, and joined a corporate college. Even though he was a topper in school, his result is not comparable to students in the real world, and he realized he should work hard to become good in academics. In the intermediate hostel he used to live, the lights would be turned off after 10 pm, and he had to find places with light to study and catch up with regular students. After constant hard work and dedication, he achieved a decent academic record. He achieved 97.2% in intermediate education and a rank of 8,653 in AP EAMCET 2017.
After intermediate, through AP EAMCET, he secured free admission at Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology. However, the college is distant from his native place, and he should live in the college hostel. Ayyappa did not want to depend on his single mother for financial support. With help from his school teacher, Ayyappa secured a scholarship from TeluguPeople Foundation. Next year with the help of a friend Ayyappa secured a scholarship from North South Foundation. He used the scholarship amount majorly for his hostel fee and other academic expenses.
In a world full of people suffering from their problems, Ayyappa was inspired by the people who helped him selflessly. He decided to pay forward the help he received. On holidays, he used to go to the school he studied at and help the students in their academics. There he saw few students who were orphans and had no financial background. Being a semi-orphan and from a poor economic background, he knew how difficult it is to survive. So, he decided to help the students who are orphans and semi-orphans with poor financial background. He shared the idea with many friends, but none of them encouraged it. At last, he found a few like-minded friends, and with their support, he started going to government schools to guide the students in their careers and helped few financially poor students with the scholarships he used to get.
In 2018, when he attended the scholarship disbursement ceremony by North South Foundation (NSF), he got a chance to speak on stage in front of the Chairman and students. The Chairman of NSF liked his ideology and gave his personal contact to reach him if any help was required. He also connected Ayyappa with Mr. Padala Surya Prasad, founder, and CEO of Padala Charitable Trust (PCT). Mr. Padala Surya Prasad’s life story inspired Ayyappa a lot. Ayyappa with his friends visited PCT. This visit laid a strong foundation for Ayyappa to start an NGO. Ayyappa and the team understood how things work at PCT and learned many new things from PCT’s experience. PCT helped the team understand how to run an NGO and guided the team in registering the NGO.
Ayyappa, with support from Padala Charitable Trust, like-minded friends registered the NGO We Are with You Charitable Trust in 2019. He and his team started visiting schools. Many people discouraged and tried to prevent them from doing the service. He did not pay any attention to them and continued his work. In the initial days, Ayyappa spent his scholarship money to help people. Later started an initiative called monthly 20. Every volunteer used to donate 20 rupees every month, and this small amount made a significant difference. Soon, the projects and activities increased, and this time, Ayyappa approached sponsors and started explaining the organization and requested funds. The sponsors were impressed and started funding for multiple activities of the organization. With the help of sponsors, Ayyappa increased the network to the United States of America. The network obtained are acting as advisors, partner organizations, and well-wishers to the NGO.
Inspired by PCT, Ayyappa initiated CONNECT, a group of like-minded NGOs, to reach more needy people in different ways through cooperation and resource exchange. Today there are more than fifty NGOs across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in CONNECT. Ayyappa always believed united; we can help and achieve more, CONNECT proved it. Ayyappa was featured as one of the youngest success stories of the Telugu People Foundation. Ayyappa graduated with his B. Tech in July 2021. He was invited as a guest speaker to the college in September 2021. He was one of the youngest alumni of Vasireddy Venkatadri Institute of Technology to take a guest session. Ayyappa nowadays is guiding young NGOs and helping them to move in the right direction.
Ayyappa realized that involving more students in service activities helps them utilize their time in an effective way. This helps them build good skills and impact the society. Hence, to involve students on a large scale, he started MoUs with Higher Education Institutes. As of now, We Are with You Charitable Trust has made MoU with more than 10 UG and PG colleges. And over the past five years, Ayyappa has inspired and guided more than 50,000 students with his sessions on Life Skills and Career Guidance.
Ayyappa understood the NGO has provided a lot of skills to him and the volunteers as a by-product along with the result of impacting society. He understood that everyone can attain the ability to start and lead organizations provided with right vision and skills, and trusted NGOs can be right place to build these skills. To prove it, he started his own start-ups in 2022. He is now not only Chairman and Founder of We Are with You Charitable Trust but also Chairman and Founder of Atoms Group of companies. With the companies, he is offering education, digital, and hospitality services. Engineer’s Scoops is one such concept where he provided revenue generating option to one of the students whom we are taking care under Project Vaaradhi.
Ayyappa has seen many set backs and with his resilience he became successful. At the age of 23, he is Chairman of an NGO, and Chairman of two private limited companies. With his inspiring story, Ayyappa always want to interact with students and guide them achieve their success. In August 2023, he was awarded with, Best Young Change Maker 2023, by Plan International.