Andhra Pradesh

Helping impoverished girls stand on their own feet

Yoga teacher S. Swathi training rural women in tailoring at Madanapalle in Chittoor district.   | Photo Credit: BY ARRANGEMENT

Till two years ago, Sankarapu Swathi (31), an MA Telugu with PhD in Yoga, was content with training a few impoverished girls in yoga and tailoring, mostly school dropouts, at Madanapalle, her native place.

How it all started

In January 2019, one of her students did not turn up for the class. A month after her absence, Ms. Swathi learnt that the teenaged orphan had left for Bengaluru to take up a job in the construction sector after her aunt forced her to marry a 40 year-old-man. The girl also took her two younger siblings to Bengaluru, to liberate them from the shackles of child marriage.

The reality of the poor girls in rural areas hit Ms. Swathi, and set her to thinking. Realising that more had to be done to help girls living on the brink of poverty, she decided to set up a foundation that empowers girls. Her casual approach of teaching yoga to poor girls had now transformed into an ambition to uplift rural women.

Guided by her father, an ex-Army personnel, and the then Madanapalle Sub-Collector Chekuru Keerthi, Ms. Swathi launched her project, Dhaathree Foundation, in Madanapalle on March 8, 2019.

Two years after its formation, her foundationhas succeeded in training over 1,000 rural girls in tailoring, fabric painting, embroidery, saree rolling, polishing, handicrafts and beauty therapy to help them stand on their own feet. “I am happy that my students are now spread over a hundred villages in our division, and in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and other cities as well. Empowerment of poverty-hit women is a big concept, but it’s not a far cry,” Ms. Swathi said.

Health camps

On every second Saturday, Ms. Swathi organizes a health camp and health awareness meets for the rural poor, particularly women, involving the medical fraternity of government and private hospitals.

When the lockdown was clamped on March 24 last year, Ms. Swathi was the first volunteer to hit the streets the same day to feed the stranded persons at bus stations. With about 200 volunteers, the foundation served food to the needy for six months.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 8:51:22 PM |

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