Mention P. Sangeetha’s name in the tribal village of Mavuduppu, and everyone will instantly recognise it. After all, she was the first person in the entire tribal settlement to complete schooling.
Mavaduppu is a tribal settlement that is 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 hard-working, inquisitive student, was introduced to the Atmalaya Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls by a Senior District Administrative Officer.
Sangeetha recalls that her parents were initially reluctant to send her to the Chatralayam, 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 (in 2017) by scoring 1103 out of 1200, with 198 in History, 194 in Commerce and 190 in Economics and Accountancy.
Today, the college student is a symbol of hope and inspiration to all children in her tribal settlement. What’s more, many parents are sending their children are coming forward to enroll their children in schools and our Chartalayams – a true sign of progress.