For the past many months, Divya would look forward to the mid-day meal during lunch time at the Government Deval Jhamsingh Primary school in Navodaya colony in Mehdipatnam in Hyderabad. No, Divya is not a student at the school and that is what makes this story so heart rending.
Divya, the daughter of garbage collector and sweeper Yashoda and Laxman lives at a slum near the school. On every school working day, around 1 pm, she would stand outside the classroom with a vessel in hand, waiting for the students to be served their lunch. Because only then she would be given the leftover food to eat. (see pic below)
“The meal consists of gruel, rice and banana. What it showed is that she was obviously very hungry everyday and saw this as a place where she could get a decent meal to eat,” says Venkat Reddy, National Convenor at MV Foundation, a reputed NGO that works with girl children.
The photograph of Divya waiting outside the classroom around lunch time was captured by photographer Sreenivas in Eenadu Telugu newspaper following which volunteers of the MVF went to the school on Thursday. They found that while Divya’s elder sister studies at a residential school in class 8, the younger one never secured admission. So on Thursday, Divya was granted admission at the same school.
It was an extremely happy moment with Divya given textbooks and uniform by the school authorities. Her mother helped Divya, with a freshly tonsured look, wear the uniform.
It will put an end to her wait everyday and having to eat leftover food. If the delighted look on her face is anything to go by, the little one will display the same hunger to educate herself.
One only wishes that it did not need a photograph and the NGO follow-up for the school authorities to realise that Divya needed to be inside the classroom, not outside it. Especially when there is a beti padhao, beti bachao campaign being undertaken at the national level.