Divya Sathayaraj, the daughter of legendary actor Sathyaraj, has been keenly working on the field to make an immense contribution of bringing proper and adequate healthcare to the poor in Tamil Nadu. She has expressed her concern about the malpractices in medicine and she has also written to the Prime Minister regarding that which gained major attention amid the lockdown.
Now, with the view of helping the poor, Divya has launched a community-based movement called 'Mahilmadhi'. Talking about the movement, Divya says '“Malnutrition in India stems not just from a lack of food but a lack of nutritious food. Lack of sufficient nutrition in the early years of a child’s life cannot be compensated for later. Indian women too disproportionately suffer the ill effects of poor nutrition. Every second Indian woman suffers from anemia. At the same time, India wastes an obscene amount of food. For example, it is estimated that 30% of the food served at lavish Indian weddings is wasted'.
'According to UNICEF India, the sad reality is that nearly 38% of Indian children are stunted. This means that owing to poor nutrition, they have not reached their potential height, nor been able to fulfill their cognitive potential. A further 21% have low weight for their height. Malnourished children have low levels of immunity and the ability of an unhealthy population to fight off the effects of deadly pandemics, such as Covid-19, is compromised. The human body’s ability to heal can only function when provided with good nutrition'.
She further states, 'Mahilmadhi Iyakkam is an effort to combat malnutrition among the lower-income group. The purpose of the movement is to identify areas in the city where access and awareness of nutritious food are lacking. Through focused interventions, we hope to improve conditions. Our team’s activities will include promoting awareness on the importance of nutrition as well as distributing hygienic and healthy food free of cost, to those in need'.
'We at Mahilmadhi Iyakkam strongly believe that hunger is not an issue of charity but of justice. The fact that good health appears to be the privilege of those who can afford it is not acceptable. Although I am looking at a journey in politics, ‘Mahilmadhi Iyakkam’ is not a political party. This is a movement of volunteers who have come together to help those in need irrespective of caste, creed, or religion.”
When commenting on picking the name, Divya says, 'I was looking for a Tamil name for my movement, when I came across the name “Mahilmadhi” in ancient Tamil literature, I thought it was perfect. The words can be translated to literally mean a ‘happy mind’ and food, more than anything is a foundation for happiness'. 'The word also encompasses my mother’s name, Maheshwari', she adds.
Divya, who is a nutritionist by profession, is also an ambassador of Akshaya Patra, one of the world's largest mid-day meal programmes. Being concerned about the problems of vitamin deficiency in the rural areas, Divya has earlier appealed to the Tamil Nadu Health Minister to address iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women in the state.