11-year-old’s tears bare a life of hunger, privation

Updates from :  the hindu

Man who lost job after the recent floods, polio-affected wife living in plastic tent with two children

Despite sitting next to her, 11-year-old Malavika’s friends at St. Stephen’s Girls Higher Secondary School at Keezhampara, near Kothamangalam, had no inkling that their friend had been starving. It was only after she burst into tears in the school bus while returning from school last week that they realised, much to their shock, that she had gone without food for three days.

“Malavika had joined the school in the fifth standard this year. Knowing about her impoverished background, the school authorities had arranged for her free schooling, including transportation, uniform and books,” said Bintumol Kurian, a teacher at the school.

Her family, comprising father Subramian, polio-affected mother Bindhu, and a three-year-old younger brother, resides in a plastic tent, an apology for a house, in Aanakkayam ward of Kuttampuzha grama panchayat in Kothamangalam.

The family was hopeful of getting a proper house with panchayat assistance when the school authorities visited them during the summer vacation. But the situation deteriorated further after Subramanyan lost his job at the plywood factory which got submerged in the recent flood, said Ms. Kurian.

Left with no means of income, the family had to go hungry. After learning about their condition, students, school authorities and other well-wishers brought them provisions and other essential items.

“We want to help the family in all possible ways but constructing a house is beyond our means,” said Ms. Kurian. Students are also mobilising funds out of their weekly contributions towards Karunya Nidhi, a charity initiative run by the school to inculcate compassion among students. A post about the plight of the family complete with the pictures of the their home is also doing the rounds..

However, help from the Kuttampuzha panchayat remains doubtful. “The family shifted here after the Kuttampuzha panchayat had drawn up the list of beneficiaries for housing under the LIFE Mission (Livelihood Inclusion and Financial Empowerment). According to the panchayat secretary, it would be difficult to include them on the list now,” said P.K. Thankamma, Aanakkayam ward member.

The family moved into the ward last year after a compassionate resident volunteered to donate three cents of land on the occasion of his child’s birthday, free to Bindhu, who is originally from the ward.

Ms. Thankamma feels that the only hope left for the family for a proper house is to submit a memorandum to the District Collector who may be able to include them in the beneficiary list under Mission LIFE.

Those who would like to help the family may contact 9745816301.

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