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S Divya studied Tamil medium at a government school near Kallakurichi but has now worked her way to a job as a chef at an international hotel in Maldives.

Born in a poor family with limited means, Divya, now 22 years old, overcame the challenges that poverty threw on her way.

Divya hails from Moorarpalayam, some 10 km from Kallakurichi. Her father Selvaraj had a drinking problem, says Divya, adding he couldn’t really support the family. Mother worked as construction labourer to support the family.

S Divya with her mother and her brothers who are twins.

When she was in Class 5, Divya would work as child labourer in construction along with her mother. The situation was so dire that Divya’s brothers who were twins, Sakthi and Manikandan, had to be admitted in an orphanage in Chennai. They would come home only during summer holidays. The two studied in the school there up to Class 12.

Divya studied in Moorarpalayam government higher secondary school up to Class 12 in Tamil medium. In Class 10, she scored 415 out of 500 despite the odds.

When she was in Class 5, Divya would work as child labourer in construction along with her mother. The situation was so dire that Divya’s brothers who were twins, Sakthi and Manikandan, had to be admitted in an orphanage in Chennai.

In Class 11, she took Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and obtained 858 marks out of 1,200. This was in year 2017. She came first in Tamil.

Divya’s family situation was such that college was going to be unaffordable. She wanted to study genetic engineering or nursing, but her Class 12 marks were not enough. Her school principal, Shanthi, suggested she approach Agaram Foundation for help. They counselled that she could study hotel management. Then she joined Hindustan Arts and Science College to study BSc in catering and hotel management in Coimbatore.

Divya got trained in housekeeping, service and kitchen categories. Her chosen area was kitchen, and she liked to cook. Her department head would say that she should take up a vocation that she enjoyed doing. And Divya followed that advice.

After first year, she did an internship at Residency Towers in Coimbatore. It was a one-month internship about housekeeping. She got an award for best trainee in that internship. Then she switched to kitchen.

Then Divya got a chance to intern at Hyatt Residency in Chennai — one of four students to get the opportunity. But interns had to stay outside at their own cost. Divya couldn’t afford it. Agaram Foundation put her up at their hostel. Every day, Divya would take share auto paying Rs 15 and walks the last time to reach the five star hotel and do her internship training. Divya graduated first class with distinction.

After graduation she got a job at Hyatt based on her performance during internship. The salary was Rs 12,000. Divya worked there for a year.

S Divya

Then she got an offer from Kuredu Island Resort & Spa at Maldives owned by Crown and Champa Group. The monthly salary was $1,130, which is equivalent to Rs 90,000.

But Divya’s family was hesitant to send her alone. They consulted her uncle Velayudham who typically advises the family on important occasions. Velayudham works as a tailor. He advised that the good opportunity should not be missed and suggested that Divya should go.

Divya has been working at Maldives for four months now as chef. Impressed with her work as chef in Maldives, her bosses have said they would place her at their hotel in Singapore or Canada.

Divya has been working at Maldives for four months now as chef. Impressed with her work as chef in Maldives, her bosses have said they would place her at their hotel in Singapore or Canada.

Divya may have studied in Tamil medium. But today she can speak in English, Hindi, Malaysian, Sinhalese and Telugu too.

Her brothers, who didn’t go to college after school so the family could support Divya, were working as machine operators. Now they are studying BCom at a college.

Divya wants to give back by supporting senior citizens and destitute women. She hopes to establish a charity that would do this.

 


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