Who will send their precious kids to an anganwadi which is covered in wild plants and haunted with snakes? – Sumathi teacher had understood this fact by seeing the state of the anganwadi joined. So, she took the effort to transform it, that too spending her own money.
This anganwadi was situated in the fifth ward of Marakkanam town panchayat in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Initially the anganwadi was in a bad state. The premises of the anganwadi used to be a wasteland and was infested with snakes. There was no required infrastructure for it to perform. It was run with the help of contract workers. The meals for the children were brought from outside. The place didn’t even have any basic facilities like a water connection or a clean toilet. But children still came to this anganwadi because of the availability of meals.
Sumathi teacher joined the anganwadi in 2017. The anganwadi had never been renovated since its establishment in 2012. “There was a toilet but neither did it have a door nor a septic tank. The school didn’t even have chairs or even utensils for the children,” Sumathi teacher says.
Sumathi teacher took the duty to transform the anganwadi upon herself, and she removed the wild plants and cleaned the premises of the anganwadi using a tractor. A fence was put around the anganwadi and tables and chairs were bought. The parents of the students initially thought that the transformation was happening because of a government initiative. However, they were later surprised to know that it was Sumathi teacher who was spending the money needed for the renovation.
Sumathi teacher had to pawn her gold chain for this positive change in the studying environment of the little ones. Sumathi teacher earns just Rs 15,000 per month, but she has always prioritised the needs of her school over her expenses. Now the anganwadi has a strength of 30 kids.
Sumathi teacher was born in a farming family, and she was always fond of farming. And that is why after ploughing and cleaning the premises of the anganwadi she decided to transform it into a nutrition farm and grow a different variety of vegetables. Today, her tiny garden grows several vegetables like beans, ladies-finger, corn, tomatoes, bottle gourds, snake gourds, brinjal and more. She is assisted by Hemavathi, who works as a helper at the anganwadi.
They cook for the children outside the anganwadi because they don’t have a facility inside. They get the ingredients and money to buy the vegetables from the government. Now they can also use the vegetables from their garden.
Besides transforming this school Sumathi says she also provides her children with slates, books, new toys and even pays for the stitching charges of uniforms. She recently installed a second-hand TV and a DVD player in the school to teach them rhymes and stories through videos.
“I wanted to help people with whatever I have. No matter how little I earn, I am sure I could still help someone or do something good for society.” Says this resilient teacher.