Friday, October 21, 2011

Devika Mahadevan

"They build our city but our city has no space for them," says Devika Mahadevan, the 31 year old CEO of Mumbai Mobile Creches. Mobile Creches is an organisation that cares for and educates the children of construction site workers.

Millions of men and women in India work in the construction sector. They shuttle from job to job to earn meager wages a day, while their children are uprooted and left unattended. Many of these children suffer from malnutrition tuberculosis, and accidents that occur on the building sites. Mobile Creches (MMC), led by Devika, creates a healthy community for migrant workers on 25 construction sites, reaching 4,000 children. Believing that care and attention during the early years of a child's life are crucial for their overall growth. Mobile Crèches provides early childhood care and development programme in the form of traditional Indian balwadis - nurseries that provide education, daycare, and nutrition for children.

Devika's parents were both journalists from middle class professional backgrounds. Hence she always had an inclination towards literature. She won a scholarship to go the States and major in Sociology and Economics. Her inclination towards languages compelled her to take up Chinese in college. Her thirst to travel and apply what she'd learnt took her to China as an Intern in the UN in Beijing. She worked on womens' issues there. Things fell into place and Devika started her career in Social Service. Following this she acquired a scholarship from her University and chose to work in Zimbabwe, Africa.

Working with slum children here was an eye opening experience for young Devika. She then did her Masters in Social Development from London School of Economics. Longing for her own country brought her back to Bombay and she joined an organization called SPARC which promotes housing and infrastructure rights for the urban poor. After working for 3 years with them she decided she wanted a more significant role in a relatively lesser developed organization. Co-incidentally both her grandmothers worked for Mobile Crèches that was 36 years old. She realized that it lacked proper growth, vision and structure. Hence she joined as the CEO of Mobile crèches with an aim to create a vision, spearhead growth and re-energies the organization.

Devika represents her organisation and manages the funding as well. Extremely passionate about her work, it is a joy to watch her interaction with little children. She has come up with a new mission for Mobile Creches called 'Dus by Dus'. They aim to reach 10,000 children by 2010. Devika doesn't intend stopping until she has covered every child in the country!

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