“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius. This famous saying is a way of life for Chennai-based Kanmani, one of the Mahindra Pride School alumni.
Kanmani was barely three when her father, who worked as an auto-rickshaw driver, committed suicide. With no means of support, Kanmani’s mother was left to fend alone for herself and her three daughters. To sustain the family, the young mother would sell flowers on Marina Beach in Chennai. Despite plying her wares for eight-ten hours daily, the family went to bed on empty stomachs many a night. “On bad days, which were many,” recalls Kanmani, “we would just drink water and go to sleep.”
Despite their extreme poverty, Kanmani’s mother knew that education could be a way out of poverty for her children. Moreover, it would provide them a one-square meal, a must for their physical health. So, once Kanmani was five, her mother enrolled her in the local government school. Recalling her early childhood, Kanmani says that from the age of ten she would return from school only to carry a head load of flowers to sell to supplement their meagre family income. The family struggled every step of the way.
Though life was tough, Kanmani believed that things would get better if she worked hard. Since Kanmani got good grades in high school, her mother was determined to put her through graduation, which would secure a livelihood for the young girl. Supported by her mother, Kanmani completed her graduation. But with very few employable skills, she could only muster a job in the local grocery store. It paid her INR 5,000 a month. It was here, however, that she had a breakthrough. She met a Mahindra Pride School (MPS) alumnus working for a multinational company, who suggested that Kanmani explore MPS’s opportunity.
In January 2017, Kanmani grabbed the opportunity and applied. She went through an entrance test and then through an interview for the selection. She was delighted when she learnt that the 90-day course was free. Not only that, but MPS also provided a nutritious lunch and a bus pass. Kanmani did the ITES (IT Enabled Services) course offered by the school in Chennai. Kanmani fondly recalls the efforts taken by her trainers to instil knowledge, skills, and confidence in every student.
With her newly acquired skills, Kanmani aced her first job interview at the BPO of HP, an American multinational information technology company. Her starting salary was INR 17,000 per month – more than triple her salary at the grocery store. She’s been working for well over a year, but Kanmani is yet to come to terms with the dramatic changes in her life. “I still cannot believe that I, who led a life of abject poverty for over two decades, am actually working for a multinational like HP,” she says.
Kanmani firmly believes in the concept of ‘payback’ and has inspired over a dozen aspiring youngsters, who like her, come from extremely poor backgrounds. “Seeing them work in companies like Dell, Capgemini and Accenture fill me with joy and pride,” says the 23-year-old, who has been commended for her work and now earns a hefty annual salary.
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