23-year-old Marthal is an accountant at a BPO in Chennai. While for many in her community of Vyasarpadi, the job of an accountant might be coveted, Marthal has bigger dreams.
The slums of Vyasarpadi in Chennai have been infamous for crime and its decrepit status. For the longest time, children were an extension of the working class and girls who hit adolescence were bound to get married in order to “protect” them. In a community that still struggles with these issues and is at the brink of change, Marthal was a ray of hope.
Having passed the UPSC prelims, she, and the rest of her community was sure that she was going to change the way people looked at the slum in Vyasarpadi. Marthal, who dropped out of school in the 8th grade was re-enrolled thanks to the interventions of Vyasarpadi Children’s Empowerment Project (VCEP); a grassroots NGO supported by CRY.
VCEP’s method of intervention involves ensuring children stay in school and away from child labour and child marriage through football. VCEP was able to see her potential and push her to appear for the civil service exam.
Unfortunately, while Marthal was preparing for the next round, her father who was the sole breadwinner of her family, fell ill, and Marthal had to press pause on her dreams to ensure that her family has a steady source of income.
While her work allows her to play only on weekends, Marthal ensures that she doesn’t miss out since football helps her feel rejuvenated.
Currently, her priority is her family and being there for them but she is sure that her dream of being a civil servant is only on hold for now. She’s going to make her dreams come true and change the image of Vyasarpadi as a slum.
Says Marthal, “While we have a notorious image across the city, we know that we care for the world. We can do well. Civil service is my tool to let the world know about this.”