Dhanalakshmi, aged 32 years belongs to dalit (Arunthathiyar caste which is a lowest caste among dalit community) living in Venkatapuram village. She is a mother of three children. She is a landless agricultural daily wage earner. This village has 31 Dalit Arunthathiyar and 29 tribal families. She is a member in a local women SHG. She has been selected as a leader in the “Village Development Committee (VDC) – which is an umbrella body of CBOs function in the village which has created as part of CCFC funded “Child Centric Community Development programme”. She undergone series of trainings on child protection, ECCD women rights, community development and Convergence of resources.
She become facilitator for the Creating Learning centre (26 dalit and tribal children are studying). Under her leadership, this VDC has successfully addressed the issue of “teacher vacancy” in the Anganwadi (ECCD centre), safe and clean drinking water which exists more than three years.
She used to play efficient advocacy role in bringing the issues of children, youth, women, Arunthathiyars and tribals with evidences for the consideration of Govt. authorities. She along with her VDC team successfully monitoring the education of children (dropouts, irregular attendance in schools). This whole community is vigilant about prevention of child marriage and dedication of young girls as mathammas (practice of young girls dedicated/pledged in the name of goddess mathamma). “Community monitoring” practice is visible here.
One girl namely Sangheetha (15 years old) failed in 10th grade and dropped out from school. Her family members start searching alliance for marriage. Dhanalakshmi and CFAM children talked with her family and arranged for studying in Nursing Asst. course with the financial support of CCFC programme. By this way child marriage prevented and enabled that girl to continue her studies.
She facilitates community members to access health care, child care facilities and social security schemes from the Government. She is saying that” Women should gain leadership skills not only to lead family but also community; each woman has potentials to bringchanges intheir own families and communities. Her husband Sivaya said “I never imagine the articulate and advocacy skills of Dhanalakshmi it a result of space created by the NGO to explore her potentials”. She contested for the Panchayat President position and lost due to 10 votes.
She has been well recognised by the community and Government Institutions as a “Change maker”.