KOZHIKODE: Belonging to Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Muthulakshmi came to Kerala after marrying Kuttichira resident Ekaambaran in 1989. She never thought Kozhikode would accept her in the way that it has eventually done, as she didn’t know Malayalam. But, overtime, she not only made friends in her neighbourhood but also ended up being the reason for the revival of four anganwadis in Kozhikode.
Her retirement function from the Kommeri anganwadi recently witnessed the participation of almost an entire village. Also in attendance were the local MP and MLA, among other dignitaries. Such is the value they attach to the contributions of the 62-year-old Muthulakshmi. She started off by joining Kudumbashree, and received the opportunity to associate with many volunteer organisations. A few years later, she started dropping her kids at an anganwadi. And changing the course of Muthulakshmi’s life, the teacher there invited her to don the role of a mentor in her absence.
“After working there for a few months, I received a chance to work for an anganwadi near Thangal’s Road, in 1998,” Muthulakshmi says Remembering the day she first went there, she says, “The building was half-constructed and the children and the staff were left struggling. Since I had by then grown familiar among the social organisations in Kozhikode, I started knocking on the doors of well-wishers. Finally, the Rotary Club offered Rs 60,000 for the completion of the building. And we managed to offer a better facility, which was inaugurated by MLA Thottathil Raveendran.
”In 2000, Muthulakshmi’s attention fell on the necessity of building an anganwadi near Mugadar. Despite land having been allotted for the construction of an anganwadi there, no one was bothered to take the further steps required, she says.“I saw children accommodated in a shed with zero facilities.”
With the support of some organisations, she led the way in helping construct a building there.
“In 2004, I was placed in an anganwadi near Puthiyapalam where I saw 25 kids sleeping and eating in the dirt inside a shed which they called an anganwadi. I couldn’t bear that sight, and after meeting a few people in Kozhikode, I collected Rs 60,000. That helped construct a one-room building and a toilet,” she recalls.
In 2009, Muthulakshmi was unexpectedly transferred to the anganwadi in Kommeri. Once she saw the pathetic condition of the anganwadi, she realised the authorities had not placed her there because they lacked a teacher but wanted her to change its condition.