Mani Manickem I come from a very poor, dalit family. I grew up in a Chennai slum, and had to leave school in Class 4 because my parents could not afford to pay for my education. I was adopted by a richer family who helped me complete high school. When my father passed away, I moved back in with my family in a South Chennai slum and started working with an NGO that made storybooks for children.
I now work with another NGO, where I train more than 5000 science teachers a year in how to teach science. I had no background in science and yet I taught them. This showed me that if I wanted to do something, I could put my mind to it and do it. Even though I hate studying, I did my Bachelor’s in Science because the teachers I was training did not feel I was qualified to teach them.
I want to work for my community, and I want to be a role model for them. I want to represent them in the government so I am going to run for the MP elections in the next five years. In this way I’ll be able to work to make their situation better. For now, through IndiaUnheard, I tell some stories about them to the world so that people outside get to know what our lives are like. In the last few months, I’ve produced stories about the transgender community, garbage-related problems in the city and the midday meal scheme.