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Seacology Prize winner donates third of award money to local school

January 5, 2016

Following through on a pledge made after winning the 2015 Seacology Prize, Lakshmi Moorthy has donated a third of the $10,000 award to a local middle school in India to assist in building new classrooms and expanding the playground.

From The Times of India:

MADURAI: The woman from a fishing hamlet in Ramanathapuram, who won the coveted Seacology Prize from Berkeley in California, has donated one third of her prize money (2 lakh) to a local school specifying that the amount should be used to construct more classrooms and develop the playground.

The beneficiary was the Chinnapaalam Government Middle School.

M Lakshmi, 46, a seaweed collector was chosen for the prize for her contribution to the development of her community by the non-profit environment organisation, Seacology, which is committed to conserving island environments and cultures. She travelled all the way to the US to receive her prize money of $10,000, the equivalent to 6.48 lakh, on October 9 this year.

Lakshmi, also a ward member of the Chinnapaalam panchayat near the coastal town of Pamban, had never gone to school.

She started collecting seaweed at the age of seven. Then she went on to cultivate the seaweed and also educate local women on the same, using methods that did not harm the marine life in the Gulf of Mannar, where her profession was based.

According to Lakshmi, women could achieve their goals in life and become instruments of development if given higher education. “This is a small contribution with which I hope to enhance the chances of children, especially girls, in the region to pursue higher education,” she said.

Local people, who are already proud of Lakshmi for putting their tiny village on the global map, lauded her effort to help the local school.

“She is committed to developing this backward village and we will do everything possible to help her,” they said.