South Asia

Small Changes, Big Impact

Born and raised in Coimbatore, young Gayathri has accomplished far more at the tender age of 23 not only than most of her peers, but also more than she expected from herself. She is a highly productive engineer in a reputed IT company – Lister Technologies – in Chennai and is also an elegant and graceful dancer. However, her surpassed expectations have to do with neither of these spheres.

Gayathridevi P., Software Engineer in Chennai
Gayathridevi P., Software Engineer in Chennai

Gayathri, the youngest of three siblings, visited her native village in Vellore every few months to visit her grandmother, who still resides in the village. On each visit, her aspirations for her native village grew; with dreams for a center to support the numerous aged individuals in the village in a manner which would rid them of their most exasperating ailment – loneliness. Gayathri also had a vision for the local school; to provide the children with facilities and opportunities which were given to her, so that they too had a chance to improve the living conditions for themselves and their families just like her father did.

For long, Gayathri had felt helpless. She was well aware that her ambitions required large resources which she would only be able to attain once she had gained over a decade of work experience. With a dash of disappointment, but tremendous drive, Gayathri would spend her free time during her college days and even while she was employed contributing to the less fortunate. Along with a group of likeminded youngsters, she would contribute to orphanages, homes for the differently abled and hospitals.

The students that benefitted from Gayathri’s efforts
The students that benefitted from Gayathri’s efforts

While volunteering for social initiatives through her employer, she chanced upon a project led by the company’s social responsibility arm – Lister Foundation – a project called “My Gaon”. She quickly discovered that the aim of this project was to provide people just like her an opportunity to contribute to their native places. She was ecstatic! Could she really be able to do something for her village now? On volunteering to be a part of My Gaon, Gayathri was provided guidance on the kind of information to gather from her native place. On doing so, this information was uploaded on to a web platform. She was now able to show her friends and colleagues what her native place looked like, and was also able to share with them the challenges being faced by people living there. On viewing this, her colleagues and family came forward to help her renovate the lavatory of the primary school in the village, which on viewing through the photographs, seemed to be in an abysmal condition.

She had gathered the resources; it was now time to implement. Gayathri faced months of troubles, but on seeing her drive to accomplish this, her father stepped in and helped her renovate the lavatories with his own two hands. Together, they were able to fix the doors and the roof of the lavatories, and install a water supply, buckets, and mugs. They had created a separate lavatory for boys and girls which were safe and hygienic; something which had been needed for years.

Today, riding on the high of having contributed to her village much earlier than she had anticipated, Gayathri has become a strong believer of how even small changes can make a big impact. “Today”, she says, “each time I visit the village, I am recognized for my efforts and people approach me for the help they need. I am recognized even more than my brothers”, she says with a playful smile.

Gayathri intends to consider this success as the first of many to come. Her next project is to install a computer in the Primary School and begin teaching the children basic computer applications. She also wants to install Learning Applications on the computer so that the children can learn even without her presence.

This time, she knows she doesn’t need to wait to make real and impactful changes. This time, she knows she can do it with My Gaon.

This article was originally posted on Lister Foundation on 4 November 2014.

Video of the Headmaster of the Primary School expressing gratitude to Gayathri
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