Sitalakshmi Mahadevan (77), Social worker
I was raised in a village called Pathur and my father was a village officer. From the age of five, I have been initiated into serving society. I used to help him in relief work during floods. In the village, we had farmers who were hooked to liquor. To help them get over it, my mother used to prepare a special coffee with herbs.
It was my job to distribute it among the farmers. My family also used to help the poor family with babies by providing a year’s milk supply. When I shifted to Chennai after my marriage, I continued with the charitable activities, as my in-laws too were known for helping the needy. During the 1977 floods in Chennai, I went in an auto around the city to distribute food packets provided by the Jain association to the needy. I have also been involved in counselling and offering food and accommodation for cancer patients.
During summer, I help the poor students pay their fees, buy bags and tiffin boxes for them. I am helped by my family — husband, sister, brother, son, grandchildren and daughter-in-law — and the members of the religious mandali I am part of. We try to reach out to almost 700 children through the activities. I have also been awarded by the Tamil Nadu government for my services. I only pray that I continue to draw the strength to serve society and people around me.