INDIA: Young woman escapes difficult family life and continues her education with support from Don Bosco Navajeevan
(MissionNewswire) Gaddala Mary Venkulamma, a 22-year-old woman living in Telangana, India, received a second chance in life and the ability to finish her education thanks to the Salesians of Don Bosco, according to an Asia News article. After much hardship, Venkulamma was sent to live at Don Bosco Navajeevan in the city of Vijayawada located in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. There she was able to live safely and complete her studies.
Venkulamma grew up in Gosaveedu, a village in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Her mother was the second wife of a man who already had two sons and a daughter and together, they had Venkulamma. He was physically abusive towards her mother and Venkulamma witnessed much violence in the home before her father passed away suddenly from a heart attack.
At the time, Venkulamma was attending a Telugu-language government middle school and was not a very good student. It was only after her father’s death that she realized she was the only one who could take care of her mother who had started to have kidney problems related to the abuse during her marriage.
“This is why I understood that I had to study hard,” said Venkulamma in the Asia News article. “I worked at it and managed to pass the Class 7 exams and the admission test to the Government Social Welfare Hostel for Girls in Andhra Pradesh. It was a moment of immense joy for me and my mother when the results came in. I could go to the hostel where everything was free. I had to take advantage of such a great opportunity and study hard. In the end, I passed the Class 8 exam with a 91 percent score. I topped the class. I received a certificate of merit and a cash prize.”
Her joy did not last long. Although her mother and she lived together as a family with her half siblings after the death of her father, Venkulamma was never treated well by her half-brothers and half-sister. The family had a small piece of land where they grew cotton and after completing her exams, Venkulamma’s half-brothers decided she had to work on the land instead of continuing her studies. She was obedient so as not to cause trouble within the family.
The principal and her teachers at the school wondered why she did not continue her schooling but she refused to tell them her reason until finally, she told her mother how much she wanted to attend school and together they called the principal and explained the situation. The principal introduced Venkulamma to Father Koshy Thomas, head of the Krishna District Children’s Welfare Committee. Father Thomas helped to get her accepted into Don Bosco Navajeevan so she could live away from her half-brothers and continue her studies.
“Later I chose to go to an engineering school where at the end of the course in June 2018, my score was 81 percent,” explained Venkulamma in the article. “Unfortunately, in the meantime my mother had passed away and my brothers were still trying to segregate me, but I managed to escape with the help of the Salesians.”
Venkulamma added, “Today I live in Hyderabad, Telangana, where I was welcomed to a relative’s house. I am looking for a job in the field of robotics and, in the meantime, I am a cashier at a restaurant. This job allows me to earn a living in such a difficult world. In recent days I received a proposal for an interview at a company and I hope it goes well. Even though I know that work is necessary to survive, there is a deep desire in my heart. I’ve been thinking about it since my mother died, when I was at university and could not take care of her, just when she needed it the most. This dream is to open a home for the elderly, so that no one is forced to spend the last days of their life with no one by their side.”