There are many youngsters who aspire to become IAS officers and put in all their efforts to realise this dream. However, while working towards achieving this goal, there are also a few who realise that their true calling lies elsewhere. Such is the story of 35-year-old Mittal Patel who was raised in a village of Gujarat. While she dreamt of becoming an IAS officer during her graduation, she soon realised that her happiness lied in working for the tribal community.
Mittal, who hails from Sankhalpur village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, is the daughter of farmers. With the desire to become an IAS officer, she went to Ahmedabad, and in the meantime, enrolled herself for a journalism course in Gujarat Vidyapeeth. This was the turning point in her life as she got the opportunity for a two-month fellowship in Charkha Foundation.
Mittal was a gold medalist in her college, and also received the ‘Real Heroes’ award from CNN-IBN. During her fellowship with Charkha Foundation, she got an opportunity to go to various remote areas in Gujarat. She once met the tribal communities that grew sugarcanes for a living, and realised that they led a difficult life. Their names were not in the government records, and thus, they could not avail the benefits of any schemes.
Mittal was inspired to do something for these tribes, and for that, she also decided to quit her job. Thereafter, she spent her next two years with them and understood their grievances closely. She came to know that the women were also sexually abused, and the children had no choice but to live the life carved out for them.
Mittal started an NGO called ‘Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch’ (VSSM) to solve their problems. She arranged to provide education to the tribal children in a tent, and struggled to get voter cards made for the tribal people. Voter cards have now been made for nearly 20,000 people, and 5,000 of them have also found jobs for a livelihood.
Mittal has been working for 28 nomadic tribes and 12 notified tribes (NT-DNT) for the past 10 years. Due to her contribution, these tribes were identified in India and will now be able to benefit from the government schemes.
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