If we look hard enough, there is no dearth of inspiration around us. For entrepreneurs, who constantly go out on a limb with the risks they take, inspiring tales of people paving their own paths is just what the doctor prescribed.
Today, let’s look at some ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to make a difference.
Priti Patkar – Nearly 90 percent of girls born to prostitutes grew up with the belief that sex trade is predestined. With society marginalizing them and government doing little to uplift their current situation, Priti Patkar took it upon herself to educate and encourage them to lead a meaningful life.
While majority of us talk about the need for sex education in India, Patkar thought differently. From her university days, in 1986, she started visiting the red light areas in Mumbai, thereby, lending her ears to that part of the society where none wanted to go. To address this injustice, she started world’s first night care center for children of women working in red light districts.
Chewang Norphel – Enchanted by the serenity and beauty of Ladakh, we often forget this beautiful place faces acute shortage of water during winters. Since the only source of natural water in Ladakh is glacier water from the mountains, Norphel pioneered the first artificial glacier in Phuktse Phu Village in 1987.
Not only has the problem of water scarcity been addressed but the problems related to agriculture have also been solved. His simple innovation has enhanced the ecology of Ladakh. Farmers do not have to migrate during winters for alternate employment opportunities, and women do not have to walk for long hours to collect water. Above all, people are happy and do not face any crunch due to irregular water supply.
Jadav Payeng – Caught up with a strange obsession to plant trees on the sandbar since 1979 after the floods, near his birthplace in Assam, washed away large number of snakes ashore, he was determined to transform the barren land into a thick forest.
After receiving a negative response from the Forest Department, he left his education and home and started living in isolation. He watered the plants morning and evening and pruned them. Moreover, he collected red ants from his village and transported them to the sandbar all by himself. At the end, nature reciprocated and soon there was a variety of flora and fauna, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger. However, it was only in 2008 when the Assam State Forest Department got to know about him and his miraculous work.
Shila Ghosh – Young at heart, 86-year-old Shila Ghosh sells home-made fries at a busy crossing in Kolkata. She lives in an area which is 2 hours away from the pavement which is her selling spot.
After the death of her only son, she works to make ends meet and support her grandchildren. She refuses to beg and believes that she is healthy enough to work and support her family. Day in and day out, she has been taking risks to ensure the financial security of her family.
Palam Kalyanasundaram – Inspired by his mother to serve the poor, 73-year-old Kalyanasundaram has been acclaimed as the ‘Best Librarian’ in India. During his 35-year-long career at Kumarkurupara Arts College, in Tamil Nadu, he willingly donated his salary every month towards charity, and to meet his daily needs, he did odd jobs.
Even after his retirement, he started working as a waiter to survive and to continue donating to the orphanages and children’s education funds. To him, the power of earning money feels more satisfying when donated to the poor and the underprivileged. Even today, you will find him in a small house in Saidapet, Chennai, and going to office regularly with dedication to uplift the marginalized section of the society.
Dr. Mala – Life is unpredictable and you never know what happens next. Same was the case with Dr. Mala. After completing her medical schooling, she joined the Armed Forces and became an officer and then fell in love and got married. She gave up her identity and her commission and later moved to Oman.
In Oman, she experienced a personal crisis following her divorce, and later came back to Delhi. But hardship followed her here to and she met with a serious accident. This accident, she believes, changed her life completely and gave her a new direction. She decided to follow her heart and went to live in Ranikhet, a hill station in Uttarakhand, leaving her home, friends and a well-paying job.
In Ranikhet, she started knitting and changing the lives of the people around. Through her art, she not only got over all her personal challenges in life but also helped people learn a new skill and make it a part of their livelihood.
Pooja Taparia – It was in 2004 when Taparia went to watch a play on child sexual abuse and her life changed forever. She was so moved by the play that she decided to start an organization, Arpan. It works towards freedom from child sexual abuse.
In the short span of 8 years, in 2012, Arpan has impacted the lives of over 70,000 individuals directly and 212,000 indirectly, including children, parents, teachers and NGOs. With a singular view to highlight and eradicate the shameful reality, Taparia has been working diligently without looking at any monetary benefit.
Indeed there are innumerable untold stories still hidden in various parts of India but what is more important is to talk of such stories and be inspired. The taste of freedom can only be savoured by talking of the heroes in the past and present and feel proud. Who knows? Maybe there is someone like them inside us too, calling for its Independence.
Share with us such stories that you see around.