Madurai

A college with stories of hope

Hundreds of girls have graduated from their two-year diploma programmes and have become nurses.

During times of COVID-19, the doors of Vasantham Community College are closed. “We are waiting for the government to give the go-ahead to start classes again,” says Principal P. Pramil Kumar.

Started in 2010, Vasantham Community College run by the Indian Council for Child Welfare began as an escape from early marriage for young women in Usilampatti.

Although it is closed for now, hundreds of students have graduated from their two-year diploma programmes and have become nurses. Many have gone on to pursue designing and teaching, the Principal says.

Mr. Pramil is familiar with most parents of the students. In the 80s and 90s, the ICCW worked in Usilampatti and its surrounding villages to counsel mothers against killing female infants. This is apart from establishing child care institutions, hosting medical camps and creating awareness of government schemes. “At that point, we were convincing young parents not to kill their children. We also told young girls not to carry forward the stigma. Those young girls are now parents,” he says.

Each decade in the last 30 years presented problems of their own. “In the late 80s, we had to convince parents to keep girls alive. In the 90s, we began creches to send young ones to school. In the 2000s, we created awareness of the Tamil Nadu government’s free education system. After that we have been trying to tell parents to send them to college,” he says.

K. Sathiya, a 20 year-old alumnus of the institution, says her mother, a daily wage worker, could not afford to send her to college. “My father used to squander all money in drinks. Even though I wanted to study, we had just enough to have our meals. No one would give us loans too,” she says. However, Ms. Sathiya now works as a nurse at a private hospital and is paying back her fees. Her mother K. Muthurakkammal says though she wanted her daughter to study, she had no choice but to say ‘no’ three years ago. “Now she is earning and saving up for my second daughter’s education. My younger one is in Class 10 and wants to become a nurse too. This is a major support for me,” she says.

Ms. Muthurakkammal says female infanticide was rampant in her village, Maruthampatti. “No such incident has happened recently though. Everyone has two children and they stop. They accept any gender but hesitate to send the girls to college because it is far away from home,” she says.

Mr. Pramil also says colleges and workplaces located far away from villages act as deterrents.

ICCW national vice-president Valli Annamalai says the college has come a long way and the students are assured placements every year.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:14:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/a-college-with-stories-of-hope/article31707470.ece

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