Menaka Stephen was a young child when her father abandoned their family. The burden of supporting a family of five fell on her mother, who worked as a househelp in Bengaluru.
She had to work in several homes to ensure that she could provide for her daughters and to give them a safe environment. “My mother worked day and night just so she could raise enough money to support our family. We had nothing. And we had nothing to look forward to,” says Menaka
But Menaka was a promising kid and to ensure that her learning curve wasn’t affected by their economic situation, her mother decided to enrol her into a school with Parikrma Humanity Foundation.
A Bengaluru-based NGO, Parikrma works with underprivileged children to educate and empower them to work towards a better future.
“Every one of our children is supported right from age 5 till they are 25 years old, and become active and contributing members of society. At Parikrma, we aspire to provide quality education on par with privileged children. We prove that children from a less fortunate background perform as well, if not better, when given an opportunity. At 96%, we have the highest attendance in the country, and the lowest drop-out rate at less than 1%,” says the foundation.
Supported by SBI Life, Parikrma is actively involved in skill enhancement, counselling and literacy programmes. This ensures that the children don’t just receive bookish knowledge, but also develop values of compassion, empathy and selfless service.
The impact of the teachings can be seen in an incident from Menaka’s life. Even when she secured a well-paying job at IBM, she found something amiss. Her heart lay with Parikrma. So she quit her job to join the organisation. And a week of volunteering was enough to tell her exactly what that was. “That happiness and all the children coming to me and asking me ‘Akka how did you feel when you were in school?’ All those things made me come back to Parikrma,” she says.
Today, she has a permanent position there as an Environmental Science teacher for Classes 4 and 5 and she is helping underprivileged children get the opportunities they deserve.
Here’s celebrating Children’s Day by saluting the work that Menaka is doing. Watch the video below to know more about how SBI Life and Parikrma have together transformed the lives of people.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)