Working for a social cause, acknowledging issues in society that need urgent attention and can be resolved are the noblest of all vocations. Here is an Akshaya Patra beneficiary who anticipates becoming a social worker from the profound suffering, deep woes and agonies she has endured in life.
We noticed the empathy in her eyes when she said with extreme determination that she wanted to become a social worker, giving herself for the welfare of children who cannot study because of hunger. Hesitantly, she told that she is not certain whether she can follow through with her goal, as she does not know whether she will be able to continue her education when she completes 14. We met Nagamma at the schoolyards of Government Higher Primary School, Tarabanahalli. She is a 12- year-old studying in Std V. She hails from an underprivileged economical background. She lives with her parents and two siblings. Her father Mahesha and mother Ratnamma work as labourers at a construction site for a meagre income.
Nagamma’s family is one among the 179.6 million people in India who are living below poverty line. They do not have a land of their own and stay in a mud house on government land. The house is thatched and has a tin sheet as door. We were humbled by seeing the deplorable condition of the house. The inside of the house was abysmal. The house had bare minimum utensils, and clothes strewn on a hanging rope. We could imagine the plight during rainy season; they told us that the water enters the house, and leaking roof adds to their woes.
The responsible sister
Nagamma has two siblings, a sister, Savithri and a brother, Chandrashekar; who studies in standard V and II respectively, in the same school (Government Higher Primary School, Tarabanahalli). Though Savithri is younger than Nagamma, she also studies in Std V with Nagamma. Nagamma had to discontinue schooling to take care of her little brother and had missed a year of school. The three children are beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra.
Nagamma told us that it was she who had helped raise her 7-year-old brother from a very young age as both her parents work hard for making ends meet. Bringing up three children is a herculean task for them. She said, “I used to bring my younger brother to class, as there was no one to take care of him at home. At first, my teachers disallowed it but later on when I could not attend classes, my teachers gave permission to bring him to class.” She added, “I am more than a mother to my little brother.”
‘Reading is a hobby, but has no time’
When we asked her, what her favourite hobby is, she told us, ‘reading’ but, she added that she does not get time for reading at home. She has to do innumerable household chores like taking care of her siblings, bringing water from the tap, washing clothes and utensils, preparing dinner among other things. Such a heavy responsibility on such small shoulders was a humbling experience for us.
An intelligent student
Her teachers are fond of her as she is very intelligent and hardworking. As soon as she reaches home, she does her homework and prepares the dinner before her parents come home from work. Though she likes studying all subjects her favourite subject is Maths since she likes to solve problems. She said, “When I am able to solve the problems correctly, I feel happy.” Her favourite teacher is Latha Miss, Nagamma says that she teaches very well and is ready to explain the mathematical sums a number of times, if required, without losing patience. Nagamma likes to play different games like Kho-kho, throw ball and the like. She has participated in running race competition held at Cluster Level. She wishes that the school has a bigger playground so that she can practice more.