Meenakshi Boddodi's childhood was filled with tales of poverty and hunger. The sorrowful tale of a child, who along with her sister Vishwanatha, would wait for their parents to return from work to give them food.
From that bitter childhood days, Meenakshi drew the inspiration to battle on in life. And she became the first person from her Koraga tribal community to get an MPhil.
Meenakshi's parents Shekar and Chukru were involved in their traditional occupation of weaving baskets. They venture into the forest early in the morning to find raw materials and weave the baskets. Their only income is the money made by selling these baskets. By the time they return with rice and other groceries, it would be evening. Till then, the hungry children would be waiting by the door. This is not just the case with Meenakshi’s household, other children from her tribe too went through the same ordeal day in, day out.
Walked 8km daily
Meenakshi's house is at Vorkady panchayath in Kasaragod district. She had to walk 4km to reach her school. Most of the time, she did not even have shoes. Even when her legs hurt after getting pricked by stones and thorns on the way, Meenakshi resolved to study harder. Several of her friends quit studies and joined their families in the traditional occupation. But the Meenakshi continued her studies and her parents offered her all support, in spite of their limited means.
One obstacle after another
Her mother fell ill and was bedridden when Meenakshi was in class VII. The house expenses, and the treatment cost of her mother now depended on the sole earnings of her father. And Meenakshi got the additional responsibility of domestic chores. Once home after school, she had to cook food, and wash clothes. There were apprehensions whether Meenakshi would be able to continue her studies. But her teachers and classmates stood by her during these trying times.
After primary education at the Pathoor Government LP School, she joined the Kodlamogaru aided school. Her plus-two years were at Kanyana in Karnataka. Then she completed graduation from the Govinda Pai College at Manjeshwar and joined for post-graduation at the Kasaragod Government College. She took her MPhil also from the same college.
Whenever she faced financial hurdles, the government's scholarship and the teachers' aid came to her rescue. Course director Dr Uma Maheshwari took care of all the expense of her MPhil studies. After completing her MPhil, Meenakshi put up a WhatsApp status on November 1 last year – New Day, New Life, New Hopes.
Meenakshi is currently on a new task. She has been appointed as the district mission animator, tasked with recruiting Koraga tribespeople members into Kudumbashree. Two units have been formed. Along with expanding Kudumbashree, Meenakshi has been able to teach the society about the importance of education through her life.
While she was studying for MA second-year, she got married to a bus conductor, Rathnakaran, in 2012. They have a four-year-old son, Mokshit.
Meenakshi wants to clear the National Eligibility Test (NET) and become a teacher. She has already started the preparations for the exam that would be held in July.
Along with supporting her family, Meenakshi wants to improve the educational standard of children from her society.