Sep 24, 2012

Nerves of steel [268/365]

Picture Courtesy: Pramerica
What is your fondest memories when you were in school?
Where you aware of you civic duty as a young child?
What were your childhood aspirations?

Yesterday, I read about a young girl who is the National Honoree of Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards 2012
Jyoti Yadav. A spunky youngster in the 8th grade at the Satya Bharti Government Upper Primary School, Dabadwas, Alwar, Rajasthan was just one of two national honorees for her Campaign addressing the issue of Respect for Widows in Society.

Her story inspired me. She is a first generation learner who was raised by a widowed mother from the age of 1. Seeing how her mother suffered at the hands of her relatives and fellow villagers, Jyoti saw the stigma that her mother faced. Determined to make a difference but unaware of how to go about tackling it, she spoke to her headmistress who educated her on the larger context of how a widow is treated in India. Jyoti alongwith the headmistress visited the village Sarpanch, also a lady, and requested them help in eliminating this evil from the village.

Convinced of their plea, the Sarpanch convened a panchayat meeting and discussed the issue at the Gram Sabha and urged the people to rid their village of this taboo.  Jyoti, now strengthened with the support of the village administration, also went door to door, meeting the elderly in the village and making them aware of the plight of widows in their village and requesting their support.   While she initially faced a lot of resentment and humiliation for daring to take up such a sensitive issue, her efforts finally paid off when she was able to gradually convert staunch conformists from their point of view and start mainstreaming such women into the normal village life. She even went a step further and convinced the local administration to give widows like her mother jobs in the village so that they could support their own families and not have to live off donations from others.

With the first to benefit being her mother, Jyoti’s mother, Kamlesh is now employed as the Main In-charge of the Anganwadis in her village. Other qualified widowed women are also now being given preference as teachers for schools in the surrounding areas by Smt. Bhagwati Devi under the Rashtriya Saksharta Mission, and another widowed lady was employed at the village Mela in October 2011.

Jyoti Yadav, the unlikely hero of our times. Bravo!

With extracts from Bharti Foundation: Young Achievers


Other Heroes I've chronicled here
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...