From studying in a dimly-lit small room to watching her mother work over 12 hours a day as a domestic help, 21-year-old Varlaxmi Pillai has overcome many obstacles to pursue her management studies in the UK.
"It was difficult at times while I was growing up. My father expired when I was only five-year-old and my mother had to bring up my brother and me," Varlaxmi said. Her mother Shanta initially worked in a small biscuit factory, but to supplement the family's income she doubled up as a domestic help.
"She always wanted us to study," Varlaxmi, who will be doing her Master's in International Business and Management, said.
Staying in a one room house in suburban Kanjurmarg, it was never easy for Varlaxmi who had to adjust her study timings in order to accommodate other members of her family and had to also factor in fluctuating electricity supply. Sleeping late at night and waking up early, Varlaxmi sometimes used to spend her entire day in the college library. "...I was always clear on what I wanted and I knew I would do it whatever it takes," she said. Varlaxmi, who does not believe in setting long-term goals, wants to pursue her PhD at the London School of Economics.
"There are many underprivileged people and I am still not financially stable. It was the presence of good people around me that helped me a lot in reaching here," she said. "I will come back once I complete my masters programme in a year. After returning, I intend to support at least five other underprivileged schoolgirls who want to pursue their studies," she said.