ANGELS OF ALTRUISM
By Subhojit Panda
Fortunate are those who get an opportunity to work for the society. The phenomenal women presented below have defied all odds in life to fight for a cause and bring about a change in the society. They have broken conventions left, right and center with their social projects. Coffee Bytes takes a look at these inspiring women and social change makers to know more about their social movements, struggles and future plans.
S u c h i s m i t a P r u s t y , S e c r e t a r y ,
L i o n M i n a t i B e h e r a C a n c e r F o u n d a t i o n Tr u s t
Suchismita Prusty wanted to serve the needy and the underprivileged from a young age. It was her parents Dr. S.N. Behera and Lion Minati Behera who inspired her to get into the social development field.“I had closely seen my father serve the children at the Louis Blind Rajdhani Deaf & Dumb School in Bharatpur. So I decided to work with him,” says Suchismita adding that the school today boasts of over 185 children who have excelled both in studies and extracurricular activities. Suchismita recalls a life-changing incident. “I used to accompany my ailing mother to hospital for regular treatments. I came across a poor child who was battling brain cancer and his family had no money for the treatment. Disturbed by his condition, I decided to take up his case. I uploaded his photo on social media and requested everyone to contribute generously. My mother even insisted to stop her treatment and use the same amount for his cause. Surprisingly, a lot of people came forward and he was treated with the crowd funded amount. Though he got back his eyesight after the treatment, he could only be saved for three years. These incidents spurred me to form Lion Minati Behera Cancer Foundation Trust in 2013”, says Suchismita who lost her mother to cancer in 2014. Over the years, the Trust has been supporting cancer patients by finding resources, identifying proper treatment centres, counseling them, etc. Several mega health camps have also been organized to sensitize rural people on cancer and other diseases. Notably, over 25,000 copies of the book on cancer written by her father have been distributed to the rural populace. Besides, Suchismita is also involved with several non-profits working for women empowerment, gender equality and women in distress.
L o r a M o h a p a t r a , S e c r e t a r y , W a r i s F o u n d a t i o n
Waris Foundation is a well-known non-profit organisation in Odisha known for its continuous social interventions and developmental works. And the women at the helm of the non-profit organisation is Lora Mohapatra. Lora’s social bent of mind was visible during her childhood days when she helped the needy and poor children in her village with her savings. “At a young age, I dreamt of becoming a daring woman like Kiran Bedi,” she says. An incident in 2010 pulled her into the world of social activism. Lora came in contact with a blood cancer patient at Acharya Harihar Cancer Centre, Cuttack where she tried a lot to help him. Unfortunately, though he could not be saved, the incident had a strong impact on her. Lora made up her mind to work for the lesser priviledged section of the society.Thus Waris Foundation took birth in 2015. Waris Foundation undertakes programmes for advancement of health, social, educational and economic interest of the society especially the poor and downtrodden. It all started with a free dental checkup at Unit 3, Leprosy Colony followed by organizing a free Shirdi darshan for over 120 leprosy patients. Lora has always taken the key leadership in organizing various community development programs like health camps, art competition for autistic kids, blood donation camps, children’s day and Rajo celebration. She was appreciated for organizing a free eye check-up camp in association with Commissionate Police for the auto drivers of Bhubaneswar and providing scholarship to poor and orphan children in Nabarangpur, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur districts.The Foundation now aims to spread awareness on a host of social issues like education, nutrition, etc. through short films and documentaries. “My work is my passion and my joy and I would continue to work for the distressed section of the society till my last breath,”she says signing off.
M o n a l i s h a R a t h , D i r e c t o r , J a n a n i F o u n d a t i o n
Monalisha Rath decided to take the plunge into social development after watching her mother Manorama Das, noted social reformer, provide free education to rural children in a village near Trisulia. “I was hugely inspired by my mother who formed Janani Foundation in 2004. Though I didn’t get much scope for social service due to studies and professional commitment back then, the social activist in me refused to die down. I got married and got settled in Uttar Pradesh. It was disturbing to see how the development of women in rural villages in UP was badly hindered by patriarchal mentality and social stigmas. Since then I decided to work for the rural women in 2012,” says Rath. Recently Monalisha took help of the police department to create a massive awareness campaign in Chandoli district of U.P. on different helpline numbers available for women in distress to lodge their complains at any given point of time. She also organized several competitions among rural women and girls in Narasinghpur to nurture the hidden skills and revive the rich, culture and tradition of Odisha. The Foundation aims to organize awareness programs across Odisha on income-generation and sustainability methods, gender-sensitivity issues and more to reduce the numbers of instances of sexual or physical violence against rural women.
A m b i k a M a h a r a n a , C h a i r m a n , A m b i k a F o u n d a t i o n
Ever since she was a little girl, Ambika had a strong desire to serve the underprivileged. She remembers secretly giving away food and clothes to the needy as a child. “I’ve always tried to create my own path. Honestly I couldn’t study much as I had to take care of my ailing father. His health condition had a deep impact on me that helped me plunge into social development. Thus Ambika Foundation was formed in 2014 with an objective to support the underpreviledged and downtrodden,” Ambika reflects upon her journey so far. But it wasn’t easy to start with. It was challenging to sensitize people on the host of issues that the Foundation wished to address. Despite all odds, the Foundation has so far conducted a number of blood donation camps, plantation programmes, cleanliness drives and more. Interestingly, Ambika celebrates her birthday that falls on International Worker’s Day with the labourers and orphans every year. Among the future plans, the Foundation plans to raise voice against corruption on a large scale. “Corruption in our society is so deep-rooted that it has haunted India’s growth. The worst affected due to corruption is the common man. Time has come to step forward and stand against the menace,” she says.