HYDERABAD: Though a lot of us often post philosophical and inspirational quotes regarding the importance of lending a helping hand to others on our social media accounts, not many go out of their way and materialise the plan. In the meantime, A Jayalakshmi, 17, an Inter second year student who lives in a slum in Singareni Colony near Champapet, has been leading by example on how to make a change in the lives of others.
Besides helping her family during daytime by collecting garbage, Jayalakshmi has come up with a plan to provide breakfast to Anganwadi children. On September 7, she successfully represented two requests to Divya Devarajan, Special Secretary of the Women Development and Child Welfare Department (WDCW). While the first was to establish Anganwadis in 21 slums, which were identified by her team, the second was to start a pilot project to provide breakfast to children in 56 slums (including the aforementioned 21 slums) through their local Anganwadis. Both requests have received a green signal, with the ‘breakfast project’ set to begin by Dasara.
“We met Divya madam and explained to her about the situation at these Anganwadis. She listened to everything we had to say and accepted out invitation to visit these slums,” says Jayalakshmi, who is also the prime minister of Hyderabad City Children’s Parliament that is part of the ‘Inclusive Children’s Parliaments programme’ run by the Montfort Social Institute (MSI), an NGO based in Uppal.
Jayalakshmi’s dream is to become an IAS officer and is confident of bringing changes in the slums. She secured 98% marks in the SSC exams. Nowadays, she not only attends online classes, but also takes tuition for young kids during evenings.
“We visit at least 500 to 600 houses on a daily basis to collect garbage. Between 5 am to 12 noon, I become part of the GHMC’s effort to manage garbage. During times when offline classes are there, I return by 8 am,” she adds. Her parents A Rammohan and A Usha are among the hundreds of GHMC employees who earn their daily bread by collecting garbage from households for the civic body. The two expressed happiness that their girl would change their fortunes forever. “She balances her studies and also helps us. We are hopeful that she will achieve her dreams one day,” they say.
According to MSI, Children’s Parliaments are neighbourhood-based groups for children that enable them to be proactively involved in action directed towards developing and empowering communities. “Many children are struggling a lot to get breakfasts. When we met Divya Devarajan, she responded positively to our requests and assured to start a pilot project in 56 Anganwadis. Jayalakshmi made a successful representation on this issue,” Varghese Theckanath, Director of MSI informed.