Sravya Madasu, 14-years-old, wants to be a doctor. “There are no hospitals in the radius of 10 km of our village. It is so difficult to get a doctor during emergencies. I want to be the first doctor of Pudur village and open a hospital in my community.”
Sravya goes to a government school in Bollaram and is ‘happy’ that her mother cannot afford to send her to a private school. “Would I have met Magic Bus had I been studying in a private school?” she asks innocently.
She lives with her maternal grandparents. “We live in a kuchcha house – the one which is made out of mud,” she explains. “I live with my elder sister, mother, and grandparents,” she says. After a small pause, as if out of habit, she adds, “My father does not live with us. He left my mother just when I was born. He did not want two daughters. My father believes that daughters are of no use. I have never seen his face since.”
“My mother has been an inspiration to both of us sisters. She was married at 17 and really struggled to educate herself. She is a graduate and wants to study further. She works as a computer operator at the Gram Panchayat office with a salary of Rs. 5000 a month. She wants to complete her B. Ed. so that she can be a teacher. Teaching pays better.”
Her mother learned from life. She was forced to marry early because her parents – both of them were agricultural labourers – had barely enough money to educate three children. She works hard so that both her daughters study further and build their own careers. “My mother never speaks about marrying any of us. My elder sister is studying electronics. I want to be a doctor. She is forever supportive of all our dreams,” she says proudly.
With Rs. 5000 a month, a day-to-day struggle to have enough to eat, is inevitable. “There have been so many days that we have slept hungry. Sometimes we just have rice with a little bit of pickle. But that is fine as long as the family is together and supportive of each other,” she says. There are times when Sravya’s uncle steps up to support the family financially.
So what brought Sravya to Magic Bus?
“Actually it was the other way around – Magic Bus came to my school. Initially, we were all hesitant to participate.
Is it another P.T. class? We used to wonder. Gradually, we understood that Magic Bus was less about the balls and cones, and more about the application, drawing parallels and inferences with our real life,” she explains. Sravya joined Magic Bus two-and-half years ago.
“None of us at school ate healthy, nutritious food. In fact, we used to pick and separate the vegetables and eat rice alone. Through the Magic Bus sessions, we came to know how important it is to have nutritious food. Similarly, we have learned so many new ways of taking care of ourselves, of leading healthy and hygienic lives,” she says.
Doesn’t her mother tell her about everything she needs to know?
“Even if she wanted to, she barely has time to do that. In Pudur village, every other person is engaged in daily wage work that keeps them out for long hours. They cannot give their children the attention they require. There are so many children in my school who are irregular; there are others who do not pay attention in class. All of us need mentors in our life to guide and inform us. Our Magic Bus didi is just like that to us,” she explains.
While underlying the immense value of mentors in each of our lives, Sravya also promises that if she ever gets an opportunity to mentor someone else, she would take it up happily just like those who made a difference in hers.
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