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Success story on Child Labour Education

Friday 28 December 2007

This is Syamala Veeramma, a koya tribal girl, hailing from Veerapuram of Chintoor Mandal, Khammam District, Andhra Pradesh, speaking to you proudly of her success story. She was a child labourer and never went to school till the age of 13. She ran away from home and reached the child labour bridge camp at LITDS, Katukapalli. The life changed there after. She speaks to us. Let us listen to her.

Success Story on Childlabour Education-LITDS-Katukapalli-Khammam Dt. Andhra Pradesh

These days I wake up suddenly during sleep with the thought that I am a trained ANM nurse. Is it a dream or a reality? I am unable to believe myself. My eyes are filled with tears in disbelief. This has often been my experience in sleep.

I walk down the memory lane of my life. I remember the day when I ran away from my aunt’s home and reached LITDS, Katukapalli. It was in June 2002. I was thirteen years old then. I now ask myself how I did that! From where did I get the courage to run away from the clutches of my aunt! Oh, you will be wondering why I talk about my aunt and not my mother! It is a pathetic story. My father, a non-tribe, married my mother. I was born but never saw my father. Before my birth he ran away with another woman. Till today I do not know who my father is. And my mother too ran away with another man leaving me in her sister’s home. I grew with out parents and learned to work at my aunt’s home, then to graze her cattle, and later to become a permanent tractor coolie worker. I never entered a school! But I would see my aunt’s daughter going to school well dressed while I proceeded to graze cattle. Leaving the cattle in the forest, I would dream of going to school, playing, dancing, and singing. It always remained a dream for thirteen years, thirteen long years.

Now I am an ANM nurse! Is it a dream or a reality? What happened in five years time? Once I reached LITDS, Katukapalli, something told me that I was in very safe hands. That was my first gut level feeling. I forgot about myself and completely handed over myself to my teachers. Three years ran very fast as a world champion would complete his 100 m dash. I completed my VII and X standard public examinations. Of course I passed in third class. But I was proud that I did it in my first attempt. I still remember the moment when Fr. Peter Daniel handed me the tenth standard memo. I received it, yes, of course, amidst my tear filled eyes, yet I know they were bright, joyful and hopeful. I kissed the memo and hugged it to my breasts like a world champion would hug his world cup. I had no bounds to express my joy. Yet, along with this joy a question cropped into my mind, what next?

That landed me in Narasaropet, 285 kilometers from my village. The longest travel that I ever made in my life in a bus! A new land, new types of people, no forest, but buildings, buildings, and buildings every where! That was another challenge! A new surrounding, new culture, a new study! A study on human beings, rather their well beings! I wanted to do nursing because I love that work. I want to take care of the sick. I have seen our sisters in LITDS taking care of the sick with love and care. I already started to dream of doing the same to our tribes. This was the motivating force which stood behind me for eighteen months. The classes that I attended, the hospitals that I visited, the villages that I lived in during my experiments and survey, were attractive and interesting! But not with out pain and struggle! Oh, I remember the practical exams that I did in front of two doctors! My heart was pounding very fast and I prayed to God saying that I had only five years of schooling and so he should be kind enough to me! Well, all went on well, because I began very well five years back. Now I am an ANM nurse!

What next! I want to work in a big hospital to gain experience and come back to my forest by next June to serve my tribes. That is my dream now! I will fulfill it because I have walked a long way already!

Thank you for listening to me. I hope by reading my life story many more children who labour, will be motivated to study and become the persons they want to be. For I truly believe, “what I am, is God’s gift to me and what I become is my gift to God”.

With love Syamala Veeramma.