Mention P. Sangeetha’s name in the tribal village of Mavuduppu, and everyone will instantly recognize it. After all, she was the first person in the entire tribal settlement to complete schooling.
Mavaduppu is a tribal settlement tucked away in the Annamalai Tiger Reserve area in Tamil Nadu, and is accessible only by foot – that, too, after a grueling three-hour journey from Thirumoorthy Hills near Udumalpet. Schools are a rarity in such remote locations, and children have to walk for hours to get to the nearest educational institution.
Further, many tribal families don’t see formal education as a necessity. This applies especially for girls, as parents feel it will become an impediment to finding a suitable partner for their daughters, since few men have completed schooling.
Sangeetha, a hardworking, inquisitive student, was introduced to the Atmalaya Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralaya for Girls in Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu, by a Senior District Administrative Officer.
Sangeetha recalls that her parents were initially reluctant to send her to the chatralaya, but the dream of an educated daughter who would make them proud won them over. Sangeetha made their dream come true in every possible way – she won the Best Student Award several times, and excelled in her Class 12 board examinations by scoring 1,103 out of 1,200.
Today, the college student is a symbol of hope and inspiration to all children in her tribal settlement. What’s more, many parents are coming forward to enroll their children in schools and our chatralaya – a true sign of progress.