In Talks with : Dhanya Raman, Dalit activist and daughter of Dalit leader PK Raman
Updated on: 22 Jun 2016
For hundreds of dropouts who believe that getting an education is not a priority, Dhanya Raman provides hope
A couple of years ago, Kerala reportedly managed the lowest dropout rate in the country — 0.53 per cent. One determined young woman, who has brought hundreds of tribal children back to school, has certainly helped decrease the number. Meet Dhanya Raman, who has been working with children who are victims of sexual abuse, child labour and have undergone teen pregnancy, desperately trying to get them back to school. She has travelled across the dark and ignored tribal belts in Kerala, creating awareness among the people there about how education can catapult them to a better life. The daughter of a construction worker, she had to work hard to get to where she is and she believes that helping this at-risk group to get back to school is more important than any other kind of outreach. As she gets set to settle about 1,000 dropouts back in school this month, we caught up with her to understand what keeps her ticking:
Was there something specific that triggered this mission of yours?
I was born in a place called Kallar in Kasargode district. My father is a dalit activist. I'd grown up seeing all kinds of people coming to our house to meet him. Most of them were beaten up, had their land snatched and their children abused. One day when I was four, I saw a woman and two kids who'd come to meet my father. The woman was sobbing uncontrollably. I asked my father the reason for her tears. He told me that her husband was a theyyam artist who had 25 cents of land, which they were dependent on for a living. Their neighbor illegally acquired a huge portion of their land — leading to a tussle in which the husband was beaten to death. There was no case registered. On hearing this, my father led a march to the Police Superintendent's office with a lot of others. This created a spark in my mind. I'm following my father's footprints. He is the greatest inspiration in my life.
You'd put up a few facebook posts about the back-to-school campaign. How has that journey been?