The Story of Suresh: An Inspirational Journey in Becoming an Architect
This is the inspirational story of Suresh, who like too many others in his community, started out life with little hope of escaping the poverty trap. But with a lot of hard work, determination and some good fortune he has forged his own career path into the architectural profession.
Suresh was born in small village in Karnataka, along the southwestern coast of India. He is the son of a construction worker, and with four other brothers and sisters life was a struggle for the family. It was a constant battle to secure food, water, clothing and other basic necessities. Education may have seemed like a luxury that was simply not within their grasp because of the expense. It was almost inevitable that Suresh would re-live the life of his father, and as respectable as that was, Suresh wanted more for his family and more for his own future.
Suresh’s good fortune came in the form of El Shaddai, a street child rescue charity that aims to give underprivileged children access to education, sanitation and healthcare. When El Shaddai met with village leaders from Karnataka, twenty children from Suresh’s village were selected to go the Shanti Niketan School for Street Children – a school in Goa designed by founding president Maxwell Hutchinson and colleagues at Article 25. Although he would need to live more than one hundred miles from home, the school provided him with safety, new clothes, food, shelter and a good education which Suresh’s family would never have been able to afford. Suresh was at Shanti Niketan from age five to seventeen, completing his education in 2010. Suresh relished and valued his education highly and learned two very important life lessons – in his own words -: “to act responsibly and to work hard”.
After leaving Shanti Niketan School, Suresh knew he wanted to pursue a career in architecture. El Shaddai put him in touch with Leonard Alphonso, an architect in Goa who happily agreed to take Suresh under his wing. From the age of seventeen, Suresh was working with Leonard as an apprentice, preparing AutoCAD drawings and 3D visualisations. This is where he got his first taste of seeing ideas on the drawing board being translated into a physical reality.
At eighteen, Suresh joined the architectural practice Mozaic in Goa, run by Dean D’cruz. He started as a draftsman on CAD drawings. He did well in the office and soon worked his way up to the position of Architect. Suresh’s first major project was the renovation of a Medical Centre for a local GP in Saligao, Goa. This had a special significance for Suresh as he had used the centre as a boy, when he was at one of the El Shaddai children’s homes. To help his family back in Karnataka, Suresh worked for Mozaic during the day and at a hotel in Goa at night. Despite the long hours and commute, Suresh never gave up on his dream of becoming an architect.
Completing the renovation of dilapidated buildings was a steep learning curve for Suresh, especially once construction started. From this project he gained a lot of first-hand knowledge and the confidence that he could take on ambitious construction projects. He carried on working at Mozaic for another two years, honing his skills.
As we was looking for more technical challenges, Suresh was approached by El Shaddai, the street children’s charity that took him through ‘Shanti Niketan School’. Suresh thought this was a fantastic opportunity to give back to a cause he feels very passionate about and one that helped him get to where he is today. He took on the renovation of a school in Mundgod for El Shaddai. This project was such a success that he went on to work on several other buildings for El Sahddai.
He has now set up his own architecture and interior design practice with colleagues called ‘Vision Design’. The firm started out in the living room of his house, and on projects for friends and family. He has now secured premises for his first professional office, ready for expansion. He hopes to add more projects to his growing portfolio and he very much hopes to work with Article 25 on future projects in and around his community in India.