24 women daily wage workers from Kerala go on first flight with a year’s savings

24 women daily wage workers from Kerala go on first flight with a year’s savings

The women, who are daily wage workers employed through MGNREGA, belong to a wide age group, the youngest being 45 and the eldest, 77.

An early morning flight that took off from Kochi to Bengaluru on Thursday, January 26, carried 24 women who were first time fliers. The women, who are daily wage workers employed through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Kottayam’s Panachikkad, had been saving up for their dream of travelling on an aeroplane. While engaged in cleaning roads, construction work under the Panchayat, or any other routine work, they would look at aeroplanes flying past like children full of desire. Their long-term dream of flying finally materialised on Thursday.

The women saved for the trip from their daily earnings. “We earn Rs 311 per day. Out of this, we started saving up for our dreams of travelling on an aeroplane and in an air conditioned train. After a year of saving, we got in touch with our Panchayat ward member Abyson Abraham. He extended full support, helped us book tickets, and even joined us on the trip,” 55-year-old Geetha Unnikrishnan told media.

The group reached Bengaluru on Thursday morning. They also got a chance to visit Vidhana Soudha, Karnataka’s legislative house, which added to their joy. “We had contacted former MLA Ivan Nigli and it was he who arranged a visit to Vidhana Soudha. We also took a metro train in Bengaluru. The return journey is on an AC train,” Abyson said, adding that helping the women fulfil their dream was one of the happiest experiences he has had.

24 women daily wage workers from Kerala go on first flight with a year’s savings
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The women, who hail from the 12th ward of Panachikkad Panchayat, belong to a wide age group, the youngest being 45 and the eldest, 77. “It was my good fortune that I got to fly, and I am really happy. None of us had ever travelled on an aeroplane,” Chellamma (77) said. Geetha’s words too reflect the same joy as Chellamma. Calling the flight one of the happiest moments of her life, Geetha said, “We would have loved to have some more time on the flight. All of us enjoyed the day so much.”

The women are planning another trip to Delhi next year. “We want to go to Delhi on Independence Day to see the Prime Minister hoist the flag. We are not sure if it will be possible, but we will try,” Geetha said.

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