Beating hunger, COVID, destitute medical aspirants of Odisha on way to become doctors

·4-min read

Bhubaneswar, Jan 3 (PTI) Born in humble families they were reconciling to their fate, but destiny had written a different course for them.

Braving all odds, a select group of medical aspirants of Odisha coming from humble background have got entry in medical colleges after clearing tough NEET examination in 2020.

Their dream of becoming medicos got wings due to noble initiative of an Odisha-based charitable group whose all the 19 students succeeded in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), the results of which were declared in October.

The winners are wards of daily labourer, vegetable seller, truck driver, fisherman and idli-vada seller.

These meritorious students are products of Zindagi programme run by a non-governmental organisation of academician Ajay Bahadur Singh, who himself had to experience pangs of hunger and scarcity of money in childhood which prevented him from becoming a doctor.

Majority of them got admission in government medical colleges of the state.

The world has come to know about the success story of Super 30 of mathematician Anand Kumar who helped economically deprived children become engineer by qualifying in JEE exams but, the similar feat of the Odisha group in the field of medical studies is no less romantic.

The medical aspirants say they had not even in their dream thought of this day but thanks to the noble heart Ajay Bahadur Singh who not only kindled hopes in them but helped them monetarily as well to keep them going.

The exciting tales of Khirodini Sahoo, Roshan Paik, Satyajit Sahoo and Debashish Biswal hailing from remote places of Odisha for whose families life starts and ends with the challenge of meeting two ends.

Khirodini Sahoo hailing from Angul district is the daughter of farm labourer Kanhu Charan Sahoo.

She used to extend helping hands to parents in the field to keep the home fires burning. But, providence helped her continue with her studies and today her wish of wearing a doctor's apron is within reach.

'My this life is dedicated to Ajay sir,' she said paying gratitude to the founder of the organisation.

Roshan Paik whose both parents are also agri labourers is another success story.

Debashsi Biswal of Kendrapara is the ward of a small grocery shop owner for whom arranging two square meals is the topmost priority.

Satyajit Sahoo, son of a vegetable vendor in a remote village of Cuttack district is another fortunate lot.

'We got birth in humble families and were destined to live a life of penury. Its only because of the Zindagi foundation that we managed to keep our dreams alive and are on way to become doctors,' an elated Sahoo and Biswal said.

Under the programme run by Zindagi foundation, talented underprivileged students are selected from across Odisha and provided free coaching and food to help them crack NEET and become a doctor.

'The year 2020 was a tough challenge for all of us, but firm in our determination we did not let the students feel helpless,' Singh told PTI.

'I fell ill during the lockdown, and came to Bhubaneswar in an ambulance and told everything to Ajay Sir.

He kept me at his home and provided everything required,' Khirodini, who has secured 2,594 All India rank in NEET, conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA), said.

Satyajit Sahoo has achieved 619 marks.

Another success story is of Subhendu Parida, who use to vend 'Idli Vada' alongside his parents. He qualified in NEET exam by achieving 609 marks.

Singh started Zindagi Foundation in the year 2017 in Bhubaneswar.

'I do all this without taking any donation from any individual or an organisation though many have offered. I manage everything from my own resources, because I see my childhood in them,' Singh said.

The man behind the success stories of these children had to leave his medical studies and sell tea and sharbat (squash) in the temple town of Deogarh in Jharkhand to sustain his family undergoing financial hardship and pursue studies.

Under the project, the talented students of the poor financial background chosen through a state-wide screening test, are provided free food, lodging and teaching to help them become a doctor.

Twelve out of a batch of 14 who had cracked NEET in 2018 got admission in government medical colleges of Odisha.

They were hosted by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik then to commemorate their achievements.

Impressed by the noble initiative, the Super 30 founder mathematician Anand Kumar has made several trips to the Zindagi foundation to inspire the aspiring medicos.

The fame of the group has crossed international boundary with a US-based foundation coming forward last year to finance the MBBS studies of a poor fatherless girl, who was coached in 'Zindagi' programme.

The scholarship was awarded by California's 'Saloni Heart Foundation' to Krishna Mohanty, who had the programme last year. It covered expenses for Mohanty's studies, food and hostel accommodation at state-run MKCG college in Berhampur.

PTI SNS RG RG