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Orissa disabled shows way, redefines life

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 19:39:00
With all the deformity, which has confined her to bed, Jyotilata of village Durlaga under Lakhanpur Block near Jharsuguda in Orissa has redefined determination and grit.
Hemanta Kumar Rout

Jharsuguda, August 10 (Odisha.in) Her torso and head is all she has to describe her entire body with her legs barely six inches. Weighing around 25 kgs at the age of 45, her height is just two feet and as if her deformity is not enough, she can roll her left hand round and round.

Yet with all the deformity, which has confined her to bed, Jyotilata of village Durlaga under Lakhanpur Block near Jharsuguda in Orissa has redefined determination and grit. Her illiteracy or her deformity has failed to deter her to earn a living for herself with the indifferent administration denying her of her rightful place and dues. In fact, she is teaching village children.

Residing with her brother who is a teacher in Durlaga Primary School while another of his sister is happily married, Jyotilata has no formal education. Her physical deformity had come as a barrier in her attending school. But today Jyotilata earns her living teaching village students subjects like English, Oriya, Hindi and Bengali which she learned out of her own interest.

"What I have learnt that is on my own, though some times my brother helped me out. But I never have seen any school. But now I can teach the children up to Class-V," she says.

Lying down a charpoy on the verandah of her house she reads out spellings as students sitting in two rows repeat it after meaning of the words are explained by her. And in return the students' families pay her Rs 50 each per month. Although a handicapped pension would have ensured her, but for a regular earning she continues to toil in spite of her disability to ease off the pressure from her brother and live with dignity.

"I have been teaching the children since last more than 20 years as I don't want to be a burden on my brother and sister. I may not be physically fit but mentally am very strong," the lady sums up. And it is not only financial independence, she also manages to do her own chores for herself including wearing clothes.

Interestingly, the district administration is aware of her presence, but preferred to ignore it. Admitting that he is aware of Jyotilata, Lakhanpur Tehsildar Bhavesh Naik said that there was little he could do.

"Jyotilata need to move the District Welfare office, which would facilitate her pension besides a piece of land for her home. But she needs to visit the office and present herself for the government benefits and also a handicapped certificate," he said.

But on the other hand, Jyotilata had written to district administration umpteen times on her plights. "Although the administration knows about my plight, but nothing tangible has happened yet. It is not also possible for me to travel to Jharsuguda and run around offices. Who will carry a torso?" she questioned and hoped that the administration someday will realize that there can be life with disability and deformity.

More surprisingly the reason behind her desperation for the pension is not the money. "Once I get the pension, I shall teach the students for free. They might be physically capable but there are many families in my village who are financial hard pressed," the fact that Jyotilata realizes but not the district administration and the political leaders.


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