Help ‘Devagi’ to keep her dancing shoes on!
Note - Donations are processed in AU$ but you can donate from anywhere in the world :)
I first heard of Devagi when I went back home to Sri Lanka for my summer holidays in January 2020. Devagi’s story was so inspiring and uplifting that I’d go as far to say that it played a part in keeping me motivated and driven during the extended lockdowns of 2020.
Back then, Covid-19 was largely unheard of and the world as we knew it was relatively less chaotic. Fast forward to 2021, ‘social distancing’ has become our new favourite word and ‘online learning’ is the new norm. So when I recently heard that Devagi, despite her resilience, was finding it tough to continue her dancing studies in India, I decided to return the favour. This is her inspiring story!
Devagimala Arumugam is 24. She grew up in a beautiful tea estate in Badulla, Sri Lanka where her father once worked in the process of producing the finest tea in the world.
She passed her Advanced levels the same year I did mine, in 2016, completing Baratha Dance, Agriculture and Tamil as her subjects. Her dream was to study dance. But sadly, her family could not afford to send her to dance school, so her father enrolled her into a teacher training course.
Devagi started the course but the only thing she could think of was going to a dance school as her heart was set on dance.
Motivated by the desire to follow her dreams, she then started to apply for dance courses, with the will of somehow raising the funding necessary.
She was over the moon when she was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts in Natya (Dance) at the Dr. MGR Janaki, College of Arts & Science for Women affiliated to the University of Madras in India. The sticking issue was the cost of this venture – the tuition, airfare and living expenses, all totaling approx. AU$ 5,050 per year (LKR 700,000).
With the aim of helping her achieve her dreams, Devagi’s mum’s workplace agreed to sponsor her tuition and exam costs of AU$ 750 per year. Her father, who had retired due to ill health said he would go back to support her through college by providing for her monthly living expenses.
She commenced her course in July 2019, quickly showing her talent, dancing with leading teams at various concerts and garnering much praise from both her teachers and peers alike. Her results in August 2020 were fantastic. See it for yourself in the photo gallery.
However, her father who had taken a job in Colombo to assist in meeting her living costs fell ill again with Dengue. He was advised to stay away from work and rest as his medical condition was poor.
In April 2020, India locked down, colleges closed and Devagi returned to Sri Lanka for safety reasons. She and her batchmates transitioned into online classes from June 2020. However, they expect to reopen for face to face classes early this year and Devagi needs to head back to Chennai.
As COVID-19 ruffles the entire world, the chances of Devagi’s father regaining his employment even if he is fully fit – looks bleak. Devagi, worries for her family’s future, and so does not want her parents to take out any loans on her behalf.
I am a strong believer that money should not act as a barrier for anyone to be able to access quality education and to pursue their dreams, so having heard her story, I decided to help her cover her living expenses in Chennai for her last two years by creating this campaign.
Your support will go a long way in helping Devagi to continue following her dreams and bring joy to her family.
She needs approx INR 15,000 per month (AUD 250 / LKR 38,000) for board & lodging in Chennai.
Total living cost for a year in Chennai AUD 4,000
Other costs - Airfare – one trip home per year AUD 300
Total cost per year AUD 4,300
Total for 2 years left in her degree AUD 8,600
PS – Devagi gives you all a great, big thank you – and promises that she will return the favour and help the big dreamers of the world, when her time comes.
For more information contact,
Dinuka De Zoysa – +61 468 899 666
Sharmini Ratwatte – +94 77 [phone redacted]
Or alternatively speak to us directly through GoFundMe.
- Mohanjith Divigalpitiya
- Shermaine Sham
- Madhvi Madhvi
- Shehal Gomes
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