From bonded labourer to university undergraduate

Project director Monica Augustine reflects on one girl’s remarkable journey with Batemans/Satkaarya.

Mariyammal, who is now 18 years old and pictured above, came to Batemans/Satkaarya at the age of 11. She belongs to the Irular Tribe, a marginalised community marked by economic and social disadvantage.

Mariyammal’s family was rescued from bonded labour by the International Justice Mission and efforts were made to rehabilitate the family.

It was at this time that Mariyammal’s mother expressed interest that her daughters be given an opportunity to find good education so that they could escape the clutches of poverty. This is why the girls were admitted into our home in 2016.

To Mariyammal, being in the city in a new home was a shock to her system, but she adapted herself very well to her new environment. She came with very little knowledge of English reading, writing or speaking. She started learning in the Batemans Open School (our preparation classes for children to bring them up to the level required to attend mainstream schools) and had a slow but steady start to her learning. She showed interest in learning the English language and was very enthusiastic about listening to stories. She enjoyed reading with Batemans volunteers from the UK and benefited a great deal from spending time with them.

Mariyammal’s vocabulary improved consistently and her communication skills became better with each passing year. Mariyammal successfully moved on to regular mainstream school and went on to complete her 10th grade, which was the first major academic milestone in her life.

Most girls in her village had discontinued studies and some had even married by the time they were 16, but Mariyammal took up science for further studies and successfully passed her 12th grade exams in May 2024.

Despite the odds stacked against her, Mariyammal has demonstrated exceptional determination and resilience, emerging as the first matriculate in her entire family.

Mariyammal is pictured (left) when she first came to Satkaarya as an 11 year old.








With continued support and guidance from Batemans/Satkaarya, Mariyammal is moving on to university to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. This is highly commendable and a great success story – Batemans/Satkaarya has helped Mariyammal help herself for life.

Mariyammal is also extremely talented at sports, dance, arts and sculpting. She comes across as a confident young woman ready to take on the challenges of this world and to make a difference in the lives of many girls in her community!

A sponsor’s perspective

Mariyammal’s sponsor Anne Desir says: “I have had the pleasure of sponsoring Mariyammal since she joined the hostel seven years ago and of meeting her on several occasions during that time, the first time being soon after her arrival. She was a very shy 11-year-old, who had no previous experience of English. She loved looking at books, pointing to pictures to learn the English words.

“I also remember her smile and her eagerness to join in. During later visits, I noticed her growing confidence in all she did; her fluency in English improving hugely and her smile had not deserted her! I couldn’t help cheering and clapping when I heard that Mariyammal was starting a BA in English.”

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