12-year old R. Priya Ranjini lives in a squatter house in Rasah, has to walk 15km to school, help take care of 4 younger siblings and occasionally study under the street lamps scored 7As for her primary school examinations. Her parents, an odd job labourer and a cleaner, earns barely RM800 a month. Priya's plight and achievement was highlighted in the Star on November 23rd.
Priya showed during the interview, admirable steely determination to excel despite the odds.
"I will not let being poor affect my studies. I want to do well in my studies so that I will be able to help my family live a better life. I want to be a doctor one day and will strive to achieve my dream even if I have to face many obstacles. I also hope the example I set will spur my brothers and sister to also want to do well in their studies and succeed in life."In another related story, P. Hemaadevi of Sg. Siput also managed 7As despite living in a large single parent family. Her mother C. Sandriga, who earns about RM600 a month as a sweeper, said "it was not easy to raise six children single-handedly."
“There were many occasions when I could only afford to feed them rice and anchovies.”Cases like Priya's and Hemaadevi's make you want to celebrate the human spirit and not take things for granted. Education is the best route to equalisation of opportunities and wealth in our unequal society, and Priya and Hemaadevi will definitely do well to focused in her educational pursuits.
You go, girls!
Footnote: The report of Priya's plight in the Star has brought about plenty of well-meaning as well as unwanted attention from many parties Malaysian-style. It looks like Priya's achievement has changed the family's life somewhat, with offers to rebuild their house, provision of scholarships and tuition classes, paid electricity bills and more. See reports here and here.