Society

The 2015 SI Woman of the Year is…

Premalatha Panneerselvam, receiving the SI Woman of the Year Award. Photo: S. James  

On Monday, the self-effacing and affable Premalatha Panneerselvam added one more award to her growing kitty of awards, honours and recognition. When she accepted “The Soroptimist International (SI) Woman of the Year 2015” Award, it was her dedicated service to education for more than three decades that got recognised.

It was surely a moment of pride for SI Madurai team to honour the power house and celebrate woman power. “We have instituted this award to motivate women to always strive for excellence,” said Latha Abiruben, President SI Madurai, handing over the award to Premalatha, who is the sixth recipient.

The previous recipients of the award, presented annually during the Charter Day celebrations of the club, are Dr.G.Natchiar, Kalyani Mathivanan, Dr.Lakshmi Rahmatullah, Kausalya Devi and Bimla Chandrasekar.

As always attired in her trademark simple cotton saree and epitomising humility, Premalatha was at loss sharing her success story. Her life full of struggle, disappointment, challenges and happiness, she said, gave her endless motivation to go on because of the numerous children who were educated in her institution and were well placed now. Into the 34th year of running one of the largest chain of schools in the city with a total strength of 10,000-plus students now, Premalatha said, everyday continues to be a challenge still. “The only difference is, she added, earlier we felt it hard to face the difficulties and now we take on obstacles with an innate confidence of overcoming them.”

She said she owed it to the parents who had faith in her and placed the future of their wards in her hands and to each student over the years who inspired her to do better by doing it good themselves.

If her own education in a rural school armed her with native wisdom and strength to face oddities in life, in her school Premalatha ensures education brings out the best in every child.

She is open to experimentation and believes providing wholesome education consisting of academics, moral value, sports, nature and culture in her campuses. “Children have to commit themselves to the needs of society today and education has to move along with commitment to charity,” she asserted.

Premalatha cited the example of her students who go in small groups each day to different orphanages or homes for the aged or the destitute to distribute food packets that they bring from home. “Each of them has to realise that he/she has a crucial role to play.”

Premalatha is an ardent organic farmer too and tirelessly works towards inculcating a sense of responsibility in her students towards society and the environment.

The Madurai chapter of SI, ever since its inception in 2010, has also been involved in various community-based programmes. Education and economic empowerment of women, health care awareness programmes and problems of girl child are at the core of it’s activities.

After Latha Abireuben took charge as president this April, some of the new projects introduced include the Soroptimist fest—a first of its kind organic expo, green walk and the work in progress on a solar traffic island at a prominent city intersection. On the Charter Day, SI announced a tie up with Arogya Welfare Trust to provide purified drinking water to 300 households in Narasingampatti village and also joined hands with the JK Mass Foundation to build two new rooms at the centre where children affected by cerebral palsy are taken care of.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 8:35:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/the-2015-si-woman-of-the-year/article7659621.ece

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