19 year old Kalaivani has been part of the Aakam revolving fund for girl’s education and empowerment…
I am Kalaivani doing my B.Com final year in Sri Krishna Arts and Science College. My family is a closely knit one comprising of myself, my younger sister who is doing her 11th standard, my mother a gentle and compassionate person and father who is a labourer, a loving dad and the backbone of our family.
I secured 70% in my 12th board exams. I joined college and found that my family couldn’t make both ends meet. I saw my parents work harder so that I and my sister didn’t feel the burden of poverty. They wanted me to learn and excel. I read well and cleared my exams with good scores. When I was in my 2nd semester, I got to know of Shanti Ashram and the Akkam Revolving Fund from my relatives. I was sanctioned an initial revolving fund assistance of Rs.15, 000 and till date I have been a beneficiary of the scholarship and all other capacity building activities of the ashram.
Life seemed just a bit better; with the amount, as we were able to pay the college fees. But still the expenses were escalating. I couldn’t bear to see my parents work so hard to keep us happy. I decided to share their burden. I joined a part-time job in a department store. My work time was from 6pm to 10 pm and I worked for a salary of Rs. 2,500. It was a challenge and I found it hard to balance my studies with my work. But I could feel that it had slightly eased the monthly household budget. My parents breathed easy although they felt bad that I had to work in order to support them. My work was not easy, that too when I had to serve my own classmates when they visited the shop in order to do their purchases. My parents shared my sorrow and gave me hope and strength. My father always stressed that no labour is inferior.
Today, I have been placed in a multinational company and I am expecting my call letter very soon. My strength lies in my family. I owe everything to my parents. My dream of standing on my own feet and living a life of purpose and worth is finally materialising. I love to watch and play cricket. I wanted to sing and learn dance but my family situation didn’t allow me to pursue them. No regrets, but I yearn to give what I lost, to my children at least for I know that nothing is more empowering than education. And for women it’s a must.
I know that I am amongst the lucky few to get such a wonderful family and empowering assistance from a committed organization like Shanti Ashram.
I will spread the importance of education to all and one day I will don the role of supporting girls to get educated and live a life of respect and dignity.
Sustained Development: Empowered lives series/ Shanti Ashram/ March 2016
Case Study Credits : A.Karthikeyan, Final year MBBS –Medical Student, LTLT facilitator and Volunteer at Shanti Ashram since age 13. This interview was transcribed after Karthikeyan’s home visit and interaction with Kalaivani in March 2016.