Age is no barrier to education or providing community service, and iron lady T. Ramanayagam appears older on the surface, but is actually rather young on the inside. This feisty lady has served her community for many years and is continuing to do, at the same time empowering many young women to rise to the occasion and bring about a change in their lives and communities.
The 83-year-old is still active in her non-governmental organisation, Malaysia India Magalir Iyakkam (Women Association), including her active participation in MIC. She is also pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Tamil Literature through online coursework at an institution in India.
I’m not the kind of person that will just sit around. I can and will continue to pursue my aim of earning a degree in Tamil literature, assisting the underprivileged, and contributing to society. – T. Ramanayagam
The Batu Gajah native and mother of five obtained her certification to teach Tamil but chose not to enter the teaching profession. Instead, she started a grocery store near the Ipoh Railway Station in 1974 and has been running it ever since.
Reported by The Star, she recalled some of her work in the estates, where the MIC adopted a few Tamil schools and supplied them with child care facilities, educational materials, and qualified child minders.
Her NGO’s initial programmes were geared around helping women in the estates, particularly those who were suffering from alcoholic spouses.
“The women’s independence gradually increased over time, and the focus of the programme shifted to giving them training in cottage industries so they could work from home and, eventually, training in small company startups”, she stated.
“Some of the training I have given to women, especially single moms in need, includes cooking, baking, sewing, providing facials, making flower arrangements, and computer lessons”, she added.
Ramanayagam has penned a collection of short stories in Tamil about the everyday hardships of women and families and due to her fluency in a Chinese dialect, she has served as a volunteer divorce counsellor in the past.
Her engagement in the NGO and politics, she claims, drove her and her team to conduct talks, seminars, and workshops to help women empower themselves.
Ramanayagam joined the MIC in 1976 and has served in a number of capacities, including that of Perak MIC Wanita leader, member of the party’s national Women Council, and vice-chairman of the Ipoh Barat MIC.
The tenacious lady who is also the founder of the Perak MIC ex-councillors group also served as an Ipoh city councillor for four years (1985 to 1989), and is currently the chairperson of the Keretapi Bandaraya Ipoh MIC branch.
For the purpose of providing her services and attending cultural events, Ramanayagam continuously travels locally and abroad, she will fly to India in October to receive an award from the International Movement for Tamil Culture.
A book titled “A Star Among Women-A Biography” about her was written by an Indian author.
Best wishes to the pride of women.