When fate handed her an unsteady thoroughfare, her self-confidence lends her a hand to make her destiny. Born in a poor farmer’s family and struck by polio when she was a child of three months, Mamta Kumari through her perseverance paved her way against the perils of life.
Twenty-one-year-old Kumari, a student of Degree College, was affected by polio. She aspires to be a teacher so that she may teach the children in the neighborhood and make her village free from the stigma of illiteracy. Kumari lost her father in her infancy. Her father Jagdish Mandal died when she was two months old.
Life was getting intricate for Kumari’s mother Janki after the death of her husband. She had nothing to up bring her children. Even to feed them for two times was not easy. Having only a small shed in the name of shelter and left with no other option she took Kumari along with her elder sister Rambha to her maternal house at Keshav Nagar Pathra, a small village in Bihar.
Kumari and her elder sister grew with her cousins at her maternal uncle Rajendra Mandal’s house. She always felt the non-existence of her father and when she grew older the absence of her father overwrought her more. This was all as her mother Janki arranged marriage for her elder daughter Rambha. She got married when she was in the ninth class.
Sister’s marriage left a strong effect over Kumari as a small child. After this event, she decided that she would not let this happen to herself and child brain started weaving dreams. Her mother Janki always worried that her physical inability due to polio would become a big hurdle in her marriage.
Notwithstanding with the notion that girls have not conventionally been encouraged to go to school in the villages it took tremendous determination to achieve what Kumari has achieved today.
Although her mother, as well as her uncle, was open-minded and supportive, her economic and social circumstances stood in the way of her pursuing her education.
“When I was in the ninth class it was the most vulnerable period of my life as my sister got married when she was in ninth class. One day I asked my mother that I do not want to get married so early. I want to study and teach others. My mother at first, expressed worry about my future but after my maternal uncle’s support my mother also gave her sanction,” says Kumari.
What motivated her to defy traditional barriers was that she did not want to be dependent on someone else, in spite of that she wanted to guide others to not to get troubled from the adverse situations. What she discovered later was that through education she was even able to fight the pressures of losing her cultural identity.
Today Kumari studies in graduation and every day go to her college situated at the district headquarter Supaul. She has never let her physical inability a barrier to achieve her aspirations. Her college is around 14 kms away from her village. She goes to college every day with her friend Rinky who also convinced her parents with the help of Kumari to study.
Kumari teaches in her village, she has around 45 students. Kumari has taken up dual mission: to promote education in her village and to save the rights of herself and every girl in the neighborhood. She makes a point to visit each household in her village to convince parents and their children about the value of education, especially for girls.
Kumari has encouraged many of her female peers who did not have the opportunity to attend school, to participate in her evening classes. It’s not unexpected that Kumari’s example has resulted in many people getting serious for educating their girl child.
The fight has begun – for the ‘Right for Education’. She became the inspiration for many. Kumari poised bright eyes, clear vision and with a headstrong attitude walks every day out from her home, and fruitfully achieve her daily target which brings her closer to her ambition.
Living with Polio
The surveillance for polio in the country is among the best in the world. Nearly 40,000 reporting units which include health facilities report as many as 60,000 cases of paralysis every year to the polio surveillance network – National Polio Surveillance Project.
The achievement is of the entire country, the tireless efforts of the entire polio workforce and the parents who came forward to accept polio vaccination, repeatedly, round after round and year after year.
“India has not reported any case of polio since a two-year old girl got polio paralysis on 13 January 2011 in Howrah district of West Bengal. All cases of paralysis reported to the polio surveillance network until 13 January this year, have tested negative for polio. India’s victory over polio paves the way for polio-free certification of the South East Asia region of WHO in March end,” says A Kumar Rath, a doctor by profession.
India overcame huge challenges, with a strong commitment that matched Rs 15,000 crore allocations over the years to stop polio. Implementing innovative strategies, the programme reaches an incredible 99 percent coverage in polio campaigns, ensuring every child: even in the remotest corner of the country is protected against polio.
India introduced the oral polio vaccine in 1985 in the Universal Immunisation Programme in the backdrop of over 2,00,000 cases of polio annually (as per estimates of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics).
Focusing on the migrant population, the people on the move in search of livelihood who miss polio immunisation in view of their transient nature, the programme covers 70,000 brick kilns and 38,000 construction sites.
Nearly 45 lakh children are immunised in the high-risk migrant settlements in each polio campaign. Since the start of the polio campaigns in 1995, as many as 131 polio campaigns have been held in India till date, in which 1,210 crore doses of polio vaccines have been administered till January 2014.