Kalpana Malik - A girl with a dream to be a doctor
Amongst the students of the Vijayanagar Project Primary School in Puri, we manage to catch up with Kalpana Malik, a 10-year old girl. She is the youngest of four sisters and is attending the school in standard V. Her father works as a beach photographer and the mother is a homemaker.
As we introduce ourselves, Kalpana offers an innocent smile with a pinch of curiosity. She exudes self-confidence as the conversation progresses which we attribute to her energetic involvement in all the extra-curricular activities in the school and her direct retorts. One of her teachers says, "She’s good in all, especially singing and dancing."
We ask her if she likes school and promptly she says, "Yes!" To get a lengthier reply we add, "What are the subjects you like?" She smiles and responds, "I like English."
Kalpana aspires to be a doctor one day. When asked why, she gives an answer that converts us to her admirers. She says, "I would like to be a doctor because there is insufficiency of doctors to serve the patients." We smile back as we silently count the number of words we finally draw out from her.
Then, the conversation shifts to the food Akshaya Patra provides to the school children every day. Kalpana exclaims, "I love the food, it's always fresh and on time!" Kalpana’s teachers are assured that the mid-day meal is one significant factor responsible for bringing the children from the locality to the school, where they all receive both nutrition and education.
After taking a few customary snapshots, Kalpana leaves us waving goodbye with her friends on bicycles.