Sangeeta Dreams of Becoming a Software Engineer, Earn Money, and Help Mankind.

Sangeeta Manakatti

It was in the early afternoon of a Wednesday, the playground of Government Higher Primary School No. 5 in Gandhinagar, Dharwad, Karnataka was jostling with students. It seemed like a rainbow has formed on the ground owing to the multi-coloured uniform-code on that day. There was a hustle and bustle because of the mid-day meals being distributed to the students of the primary and upper primary section. The children were running around with hot meals on their plates, looking for a place to relish it with their friends. Soon, the place was filled by children sitting in different groups, slurping over the bisibelebath while discussing lectures, lifestyle, and dreams!

Among those 286 students, there was a group of five girls dressed in red-coloured tracksuits giggling and trying to shy away from the camera. When asked what they were talking about, one of them raised her hand enthusiastically and said, “We were talking about our ambitions”. That was Sangeeta Manakatti; a 13-year-old girl with small sandalwood tikka on forehead, two neat plaits, a delightful smile, and eyes that reflect a sheer sense of determination. She further continues, “I said, I want to become a software engineer, move to Bengaluru, work for an IT firm, and become rich. That is why they were laughing”

Thus starts the story of Sangeeta, an 8th standard student who is aware of her ambitions and pre-determined about the utilisation of her earnings. For her age, she thinks and talks like a mature adult. Speaking more about her ambition, she says, “The reason I want to be a software engineer in Bengaluru is because it can fetch me good money. Once I start earning, I will donate half of my salary to farmers who are in dire need of money or to a charitable trust that is working for their upliftment.”

While the cause seems plausible, the force and the story that drives this thought process is heart-breaking. Sangeeta stays away from her parents in Dharwad city with her uncle, aunt, and two younger brothers. Her uncle is a CNC machine operator in a factory, while her aunt is a homemaker. Sangeeta’s day starts by helping her brothers, studying in 2nd and 5th standard respectively, getting ready for their schools. Later on, she helps her aunt with daily chores before leaving for school. Once she is back at home in the evening, Sangeeta aids her aunt in cooking dinner, followed by assisting her brothers with their homework. Even after this hectic day, Sangeeta ensures that she has completed her regular studies before retiring to bed.

Sangeeta’s parents have sent her to Dharwad for better education opportunities. Speaking about them, she says, “My mother, Sujata, and my father, Ravi, are farmers by profession. They live in the village where we have our farm. My parents pursue farming and try to provide me with anything that I need here. This is why I want to utilise my salary for helping the farmers of India. If possible, I will try to make an app that will assist them in farming in some or the other way. I am not sure right now what it would be. But once I become an engineer, I’ll try to figure out something.” In addition to this, she has other plans to make society a better place. She says, “After donating one half, I’ll try pay fees of some children who cannot afford education.”

Sangeeta is one of the 2 million beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra’s effort to implement the PM Poshan scheme in government flagship schools across India. The meals provided to children under this scheme helps them to be physically and mentally fit for pursuing the career goals of their choice.

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