sulabh swatchh bharat

Thursday, 21-March-2019

MENAKA STEPHEN - A BEACON OF HOPE FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED KIDS

A Bengaluru-based NGO, Parikrma works with underprivileged children to educate and empower them to work towards a better future

Even in 21st century India, millions of children continue to be stuck in the vicious circle of poverty, completely missing out on their childhood
This is the story of one such person, who witnessed the deprivation from a very young age and despite the challenges, rose above them all. Menaka Stephen comes from a less fortunate background. Her father abandoned her family when she was just a child and her mother, who worked as a housemaid, found it extremely tough to provide for the family. However, Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which works for the education and empowerment of underprivileged kids, took her in and gave her a platform to showcase her innate talent.
8-year-old Menaka was part of the first batch and her life since then has been one of positivity and sheer determination. In the course of her education, Menaka bagged awards of ‘Best All-Rounder’ and ‘Best Student’. Although financial problems continued to cause a strain, young Menaka did not lose heart. She had to drop out of her hospitality course in the final year, but she immediately got a stable job. She later joined IBM as a receptionist and for all intent and purposes, her life seemed settled and happy. 
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 lays 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.
She shares, “I could not have asked for more from life as this is what makes me the happiest. Seeing these kids and being with them keeps the child in me alive as well.” We should all take a leaf out of Menaka’s book as #DilBacchaTohSabAcha.