In a remarkable example of humanity and religious harmony, a Muslim Mahal Committee stepped in to help a Hindu student when there was a possibility that she may have to discontinue her studies because of her inability to pay the fees.
The Mahal Committee at Puzhakkattiri in Malappuram, a northern district of Kerala, collected money to pay the college fees on Sathya Vani's behalf, enabling her to resume her studies. The family is from the Committeeâ€™s neighbourhood.
For Ramesh and Santha, parents of Sathya, sending their daughter for higher studies was a herculean task. Ramesh, a daily wage labourer engaged in quarry work, wished to educate his daughter and enrolled her for the BSc Nursing course.
However, since Sathya secured only 57 % marks in her Plus Two exams, she was not able to avail an education loan from a nationalised bank. The family managed to pay the fees for the first two years by borrowing money and taking smalls loans from private banks. But, tragedy struck the family in November 2017 when Ramesh died after being treated for pancreatic ailments for months. The future became a question mark for the family.
Paying the annual fee of Rs 1 lakh for Sathya's course become a daunting task for Santha. To make matters worse, Santhaâ€™s employer, who used to help the family, also died.
After Ramesh's death, Santha struggled to make two ends meet, having to meet household expenses as well as the education costs of Sathya and her younger brother, a Plus Two student. As a daily wage labourer, it became impossible for her to find the money. Subsequently, she approached the Mahal Committee in the neighbourhood.
â€śMy daughter was worried and kept crying because of the fear that her studies would be stopped. I, too, couldnâ€™t think of doing that as it was her fatherâ€™s dream. The college management, after the death of my husband, gave a discount of nearly Rs 20,000 in the fees. But when we were not able to pay even that, she was not allowed to attend classes. It was my neighbour Chandran who asked me to meet the Mahal Committee people. I met them and they agreed that they would do something. One day, when I had gone to collect firewood, I got a call from a Committee member. I rushed back to my home. When I was reached, members of the Committee were waiting for me. They asked me to give the bank account details of the college,â€ť said Santha, who was barely able to contain her emotions.
Not only did the Committee pay the annual fees, one of its members volunteered to donate the entire amount for the year.
â€śWe didn't do it for any publicity. The man who gave the money doesnâ€™t want his name to be revealed. But if it serves as a good message for at least one person, we all are happy,â€ť said Moidy, Secretary of the Committee. â€śAfter Santhaâ€™s employer also died, the family was in big trouble. When they approached us for help, what mattered was humanity, not religion,â€ť he said.
Santha said that Moidy has been of huge help for her family in the past as well.
â€śMy father and he used to be friends. For a long time, my family didnâ€™t have drinking water facility. It was only after Moidy became a Panchayat member that he arranged for drinking water for us. Here, we all have very cordial relations with each other, we've never felt any religious barriers standing between our relationship,â€ť she said.