A gold medallist at a state-level taekwondo championship, she dreams of representing India in the Olympics. But poverty threatens to smother 18-year-old Laxmi Vishwakarma’s dreams as even a glass of milk is luxury for her.
Living in a shanty adjacent to a temple near Kiran Path in Mansarover, Laxmi and her twin sister Puja aspire to don India colours at the highest level. Their inspiration is brother OP Vishwakarma, who had played in the national level too.
“Apart from the expensive training gear such as armguards and chest guards, a protein-rich diet consisting of fruits and soybean should be given to them. That doesn’t happen under the circumstances,” said the brother, who works at a karate academy but doesn’t have a steady income.
The parents, father Siddhu Vishwakarma who is a watchman and mother Saraswati, a domestic help, earn around Rs 10,000 a month, an amount that barely brings the family of five two square meals a day.
“We don’t have enough money to buy milk every day. Sometimes we share a packet of milk among the five of us and can’t even give a full glass to the girls,” Saraswati said.
Laxmi won the gold medal at the 24th state junior and senior taekwondo championship in the under-52kg category in September 2015. She wore a gear borrowed from a coaching academy.
“I want to play in the nationals but have no clue how to proceed,” she said.
Her twin sister, Puja, has represented Rajasthan in the state-level championship too.
“We can’t afford the entry fees for championships, which are often more than Rs 5,000. Even for the state-level tournament, we managed to pay the fees by taking loans,” their mother said.
The financial status of the talented twins, both students of class 11, has been a cause of concern for their teachers as well.
“The girls need good coaching, which is not possible in Jaipur, and also diet and equipment. We charge a nominal amount from them. As far as other expenses are concerned, we help them. It would indeed be a tragedy if poverty wins at the end and their talent doesn’t get proper recognition,” said Parag Sharma, the director of Mansarovar Priyanka Academy, the twins’ school.
Laxmi teaches martial arts to girls at an orphanage after school gives over.
“I teach self-defence techniques. There are a few boys as well,” she said.