Rathi Devi S, the chief woman facilitator at the Police Boys and Girls Club in Morai, Chennai, talks about what makes her spin!
“I turn around like a top,” says Rathi Devi S, who lives and works in Morai, about 50 km from Chennai’s city centre.
The Apollo Hospitals medical team with the Chennai staff from Billion Hearts Beating is out to conduct a health camp and basic life support (BLS) training session for the members of the Police Boys and Girls Club (PBGC).
These clubs in Chennai – 130 in all – offer after-school services to children in the area. Sports (both indoor and outdoor), academic inputs, vocational training and skill development, medical check-ups, and entertainment all form part of what PBGCs do. These safe spaces help to tackle the socio-economic challenges of communities. The assigned scoutmasters, a caretaker, and a child welfare officer are in charge of organizing and monitoring the PBGCs’ activities. Our health camp is one such, and it benefits the students, their families, and their extended networks in the area.
All 11 of us arrived in a crowded open ground in Morai and looked to Rathi, a 36-year-old woman bursting with energy and a voice that meant business. As the camp organizer, her responsibilities include facilitating as many constructive activities as possible for the people who live in Morai.
Rathi has a master’s degree in public administration and believes that education will open the doors to many opportunities for the students who come to the PBGC. “My students have the right to understand the value of education and how to access and attain all the options available to them after high school,” she says.
Rathi talks about her experiences when she had no degree. The way people treated her and her own feeling of not being ‘good enough’ stuck with her. She hasn’t forgotten it, and that motivates her to help the students. Access to medical care, health and social awareness are a part of that education.
Rathi’s interest in serving the community stemmed from her volunteering experience in the National Service Scheme (NSS) in school. Today, she helps people understand various government schemes and those offered by not-for-profits like ours, so that everyone in her community benefits.
Rathi says she looks forward to going to work every day because it brings her closer to the community in Morai. “I’d like to be a role model for my students. I hope they work hard to achieve their goals,” she says.