These young girls are pursuing Masters in Social Work from Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. They worked on some interesting projects this summer, focussing on the fishermen community women in the village. We met them in Chennai, to get to know them better. Shanmugarajan interviewed them and this is how the conversation with Esther went.
Shanmugarajan (S): Hi Esther! Please tell us about your background.
Esther (E): I was born in Bangalore, but grew up in Chennai. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Soka Ikeda college, Chennai. I’m currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work from Madras School of Social Work, Chennai.
S: That’s interesting. What drew you towards social work?
E: When I was around 5 years old, I left my house as I couldn’t withstand my step-father’s abuse. One of the childline officials noticed me on a train and handed me over to the Child Welfare Committee in Chennai. There I was kept in a shelter home for 2 years. I expressed my interest to study. So, they put me in Seva Samajam children’s home, which has an on-campus school. I completed my entire schooling there with the help of caretakers. I understand the problems and needs of the students there. I’m now a part-time caretaker myself in that school. People have played an important part in my life and I consider lucky to here with their help. I would like to help other people to come up in life.
S: That’s really inspiring, Esther! Hats-off. I really appreciate your braveness and sense of gratitude. What are your interests and hobbies?
E: I love reading books, especially the ones based on history. A book on Captain Prabhakaran was the latest one I read. Sujatha’s Pesum Bommaigal is one of my all time favorites. Stitching clothes and embroidery also interests me. I specialize in stitching skirts. I also enjoy listening to music and singing. I used to play the drums when I was in school and played football when I was in college.
S: You have quite a diverse set of interests. Great! So, how did you get to know about Friend In Need and why did you choose to intern with us this summer?
E: One of our professors, Dr. Damen Queen introduced us to this opportunity at FIN and briefed us the work involved. I’ve worked with people from different communities, but not from the women of the fishermen community. I was really excited to learn about this. My initial one-day visit to the village really gave us an insight into the kind of work that needs to be done. There was a huge scope for personal learning and social impact. I was also very impressed by Prof. Ramani’s work in the village. Choosing FIN was a no-brainer.
S: How do you think this internship will help you?
E: I strongly believe that this internship will help me assess where I stand in terms of skills and project execution. As there is a great scope for learning, it would be a wonderful place to hone my planning and execution skills, also developing my leadership qualities.
S: I’m sure you’re gonna achieve everything you want in this internship, Esther. What are your future plans?
E: After completing the course in MSSW, I would like to work for some NGO to get to understand the ground realities more. I would also like to explore different cultures. It would be great if I can find a place that can help me do both. My dream in life is to open an NGO for transgenders. I know the difficulties that they face in our society and they go through a very hard time. I would like to make this world a better place for them.
S: That’s really amazing, Esther! We wish you all the best for achieving your dreams. It’s great to have such a wonderful personality working with us. Thank you for your time!
Sowmiya’s interview with Shanmugarajan.
Shanmugarajan (Shan): Hi Sowmiya! It’s great to have you here. We would love to know about you. Please introduce yourself.
Sowmiya (Sowmy): I’m from Gummudipoondi, located near Chennai. I earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce and I’m currently pursuing Master of Social Work from Madras School of Social Work, Chennai. My father is a retired police officer and my mother is a homemaker. I have one elder sister.
Shan: It’s wonderful to know your background and about your lovely family, Sowmiya. Tell us something about your interests.
Sowmy: I really love indulging myself in music. Music feeds my soul and I enjoy listening to sad and inspiring melodies. ‘Endhan kan munne’ from the tamil movie Nanban is one of my all-time favorites. Though I’m not a professional, singing interests me. I sing and enjoy myself.
Shan: A singer is a singer, no matter how they sing. It’s great to have a singer with us! Why did you choose social work as your field of study?
Sowmy: I was always interested in serving people. My uncle who works at Amazon suggested me to take up social work based on my skills and interest. I look up to him and value his advice a lot. I took it up and now I feel that it is a good fit for me.
Shan: It’s great to have someone guide you with your career choices. I’m glad you have your uncle. How did you get to know about FIN? And what made you choose us?
Sowmy: My professor at MSSW, briefed us about this internship opportunity. I already had the experience of working with rural people and was excited to work with the fishermen. Then, I discussed the organization with my seniors who have already interned here. They gave me very positive feedback. When Esther told me that she was also coming here, I was convinced that this was a great opportunity for me.
Shan: That’s good. We are happy that you chose to work with us. How do you think FIN will help you?
Sowmy: I strongly believe that working on the field close to the women of the fishermen community is going to help me gain insights into the lives of people and the problems they face. Also, it is going to be a great opportunity for me to work on projects end-to-end and work in small teams. This will develop my overall skills and employability.
Shan: I’m sure you’ve wonderful opportunities to grow as you work with the community there. What are your future plans, Sowmiya?
Sowmy: My short term goal is to work for an NGO after completing my master’s. My dream is to become an IAS officer to serve people. I would love to establish my NGO someday, but I’m still in the pursuit of finding the cause for it. I’m sure I’ll find it soon!
Shan: I’m also very sure that you’ll find it soon, Sowmiya. It’s great to have young people having such aspirations to serve our society. We wish you all success. Thank you for your time! Looking forward to working with you!