Students of 115 government schools from West Kerala collected over Rs 2 lakh to fund the education of four siblings in Agra whose parents claimed they were reduced to poverty post-demonetisation.
The mother of the four children had in a Facebook post recently threatened to sell her kidney as, she alleged, demonetisation had ruined her husband’s garment business and rendered them unable to pay fees to the private English medium school where her daughters were studying.
Janardhanan M V and Raveendran V V, government school teachers from Kannur district, and members of the Kerala School Teachers’ Association on Thursday handed over a cheque of 2,00,500 to Arti Sharma, the 35-year-old mother of four, during a public event in Agra.
“This is a message of harmony among human beings. The children of Kerala consider Arti Sharma’s children their own brothers and sisters,” Janardhan said.
The teachers then handed Arti, her husband Manoj and their daughters Nidhi (14), Navya (12), Nandini (10) and son Shaurya (7) the cheque. They also presented a pair of gold earrings framing the message “Pyaari Maa, apke bachhe hamare bhai-behen hain. Unke liye hamari yeh pyaar sweekar kijiye.” The earrings, Raveendran said, were donated by a girl who works as a child artiste in local soaps.
Jan Sanskriti, a Delhi-based socio-cultural organisation that facilitated the teachers’ trip from Delhi to Agra, also donated Rs 10,000 to the parents.
An overwhelmed Arti thanked the teachers and students “who sent money from so far away” and “felt for her children”. “I wish the students all the best, and want to tell all the women and mothers of India to never give up the fight for their rights as women and mothers.”
Raveendran said, “We discussed Arti’s Facebook post with our MLA from Thaliparamba, James Mathews, who took great interest in helping her. During a seminar on World Environment Day, he spoke about the mother’s plight. Students from the 115 schools in attendance from his constituency suggested they would conduct a one-day drive to pool money.”
Janardhan also told the Sharmas that their children could avail of education in Kerala, where public school education is free.
Arti had in her Facebook post offered to sell her kidney to fund her daughters’ education because she was refused help by the local administration and the state government.
“The school fees is Rs 3,500 a month. We have not been able to pay it since demonetisation. So my daughters were not able to join the new session,” Manoj said. “The money will help us clear pending fees and pay for the entire new session. We can also pay our pending rent and electricity bills.”