83-year-old pursues literature degree amid multiple roles

Go-getter grandmother: Ramanayagam, pictured here showing the book written on her, says she is not the type of person to sit idle.

IPOH: Age is no barrier to education or service to the community for 83-year-old T. Ramanayagam.

The grandmother is still working hard for her non-governmental organisation called Malaysia India Magalir Iyakkam (Women Association) as well as through MIC.

The mother of five is also pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Tamil Literature via online classes with a university in India.

“I’m still able to contribute to society and I’m not the type of person who is just going to sit idle.

“I still can and will continue to pursue my dream of getting a degree in Tamil Literature, help the needy and provide my knowledge to society,” she said when met at her NGO office recently.

Born in Batu Gajah, she received her training certificate to teach the Tamil language.

However, she did not become a teacher. Instead, she ventured into business.

She has been running a grocery store at the Ipoh Railway Station since 1974.

Recalling some of her work in the estates, she said a few Tamil schools were adopted by MIC where they were provided with childcare centres, educational books and qualified child minders.

She said when she first started her NGO, the programmes were focused on women in the estates, especially those affected by alcoholic husbands.

“Slowly with the progression of time, the women started to become more independent and the scope changed to providing them cottage industry training to working from home and later on, training to start their own small businesses.

“Cooking, baking, sewing, doing facials, flower arrangements and computer classes are among some of the training that I have provided to women, especially single mothers in need,” she added.

Ramanayagam has also written a book of short stories in Tamil on the daily struggles of women and families.

She previously volunteered as a counsellor for divorce cases as she is fluent in a Chinese dialect.

Her involvement in the NGO and politics, she said, led her and her team to hold talks, seminars and workshops for women to better themselves.

Ramanayagam became an MIC member in 1976 and had held various positions, such as Perak MIC Wanita chief, the party’s national Women Council member and Ipoh Barat MIC vice-chairman.

She is also the founder of the Perak MIC ex-councillors club.

She was an Ipoh city councillor for four years from 1985 to 1989, and she is now the Keretapi Bandaraya Ipoh MIC branch chairman.

“I still travel locally and abroad to render my services and attend cultural conferences, and in October, I will be travelling to India once again to receive an award from the International Movement for Tamil Culture,” she added.

An Indian author had also written a book on her titled A Star Among Women - A Biography.

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