‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’
Buvaneswari Sarvanan is an iron woman whose strong-willed determination empowered her to move the mountains against all odds life threw at her. A girl child born into a poverty-stricken family, a child laborer at the age of 10, a girl abused by her uncle, a daughter married at 18 and a transformed woman who completed education at 27; Buvaneswari Sarvanan’s life story is sure to inspire even the hopeless!
They say- it always rains the hardest on people who deserve the sun.
Life had taught Buvaneswari Sarvanan the hard way. In the tender years of her childhood, she witnessed the most traumatizing scenes at home. Her father (Haridas) was an alcohol-addict who came home drunk every night to mercilessly beat up her helpless mother. As the sun would set, she recalls seeing a crowd of curious villagers who would gather outside her home to check what was brewing. Worried about the safety of her 3 little children, Buvaneswari ’s mother mustered the courage to leave the home.
Before this, Buvaneswari stayed in her Aunt’s house but not in peace. She was humiliated by her aunt and abused by her uncle. At the vulnerable age of 10, Buvaneswari Sarvanan was a child laborer whose monthly salary was Rs.210. All the hard-earned money would go to Buvaneswari ’s Aunt. But even then she had the grit and foresight to value education-
“An underprivileged family does not have to be underprivileged forever. Education has the power to change it.”
Days were as dark as nights. With no roof over the family’s heads; they ate, slept and lived on the platforms of a bus depot for one full month. Buvaneswari ’s family saw a ray of hope during their dull phase when her mother found work as a domestic helper. Financial hardships eased a little as even the young members tried their best to substantiate the family’s income. Finally, her mother’s friend was kind enough to provide accommodation to them.
All these struggles lit a fire in her to become a changemaker.
“I believe that a cobbler’s daughter shouldn’t end up becoming a cobbler. Likewise, a maid’s daughter shouldn’t grow up to become another maid.”
At 18, Buvaneswari lost her doting mother to jaundice and married Sarvanan, a man who vowed to support her family. Years after marriage, he remained true to his words! There were gloomy days when the couple rented a cart for Rs.30 (per day) where they ironed clothes and Buvaneswari would sell idlis. The duo strengthened each other and crossed hurdles courageously. Buvaneswari’s better half knew the unfulfilled dreams she carried in her eyes.
When she was 27 years he told her, “So what if you couldn’t complete your education back then? Now you can!” There was no looking back. She pursued Sociology through correspondence and discovered an uncanny interest to serve the society. In 2013, her vision took shape in reality when she registered her NGO called the Shine Trust which aims to eradicate child labour and ensure free training to school children.
Being a strong advocate of education Sarvanan (her husband) advises her students-
“If you take the pains to study today, you will become a big man who comfortably works under the fan. If you don’t, you will have to serve coffee to a big man sitting under the fan!”
What does her NGO do?
“In slum areas of Vysaarpadi, once the girl passes 8th standard she is sent to homes for domestic work. Because for them, earning money is more important than education.” Shine Trust deserves being credited for enlightening the minds and changing the lives of 332 children. In addition to the other activities offered (refer picture) Shine Trust attempts to create awareness on tobacco and cancer, importance of sanitation and offers cultural teachings. Such phenomenal work done by a young NGO yet Buvaneswari admits that they face problems with receiving regular funding.
Our Social Call
Buvaneswari beams in pride, “My husband is the only man who treated me respectfully.” She adds-
“If today I run an NGO trust then the credit goes to my husband for encouraging me,”
Have you ever thought that your obstacles were bigger than your opportunities? Did you eve feel you can’t accomplish your goals because of your background? Then just remember these words of Brain Tracy-
‘It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go.’
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