Nine selected for General Nursing Midwifery course. Express Photo
Her mother bedridden, father and brother dead, younger sister ailing, Ritu Rani could have given up. Instead, she chose a different route. The 21-year-old from Raipur Marwari village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh walked up to Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar’s office and told him, “Job chahiye aur padhna hai (I need a job but I want to study too).”
Impressed by Rani’s gumption, the DC visited her home next day and, soon, worked out a solution for Rani and eight other girls in similar situation as her. Now, the district administration has “adopted” the nine and has enrolled them for a three-year General Nursing Midwifery course, all expenses paid.
“Beti bachao, beti padhao. That’s fine,” says Kumar. “Now the next step should be, beti aage badao (take the daughter forward).”
For the DC, charity begins at home. He has been sponsoring education of two girls personally. While one is doing a nursing course at Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, the other is enrolled in a tourism and hospitality course at Phagwara in Punjab.
District Programme Officer (ICDS) Satnam Singh and his team says they drew up the list of nine girls on the basis of who needed help the most. “I went to an educational institution and explained our intent. When I was returning, a girl came running up and narrated her story. It was so touching. I shortlisted her,” Singh says.
Una-based Nanda Hospital is conducting the midwifery course, and owner Dr S K Nanda says it was his way of giving something back to society. “When the DC sahib approached me, I straightaway agreed to cut the fees by half. The remaining half is being borne by the administration.” Nanda said the hospital additionally gives a discount of 10% to 20% in fees to deserving candidates.
Among those selected for the course is Kanchan Chaudhary, 18, a resident of Nagonli village, who is being looked after by her grandparents after her father died and mother remarried. With her grandfather dependent on MNREGA wages and uncle a Una dist adopts 9 girls, gives them free nursing training; DC says time for ‘beti aage badhao’farmer, making ends meet is a struggle for the family.
Nikita Thakur, 17, of Sanghnai village is an orphan, with both parents dead, while Dehlan village’s Praveen Kumari, 18, lost her mother to cancer after which her father abandoned her and her sister. “I wanted to join banking. But God had other plans,” says Praveen, who stays with her grandparents.
Rajandeep Kaur, 18, of Sanoli village, was left similarly destitute after the death of her father to cancer and remarriage of her mother. Rajandeep, who couldn’t afford to become a doctor given the expense, sees the nursing course as a godsend. “My dream is being fulfilled,” she says.
Among the other girls selected is Amarpreet Kaur, 18, also from Sanoli village, whose father died in an accident and whose mother remains missing since, she says. “I wanted to join the Army, but now I want to continue this course,” she says.
Ritika Sahota, 18, of Heeran Thara village, says that with both her parents dead, “things have started looking up after I joined this course”.
Among the eldest of the women selected is Sheetal Bhatia, 20, of Dangoh village, whose father has been bedridden for two years. Her mother takes up work under MNREGA, barely sustaining the family, including a son and daughter who are in school. Her eyes welling up, Sheetal says she hopes she can get a good job after the course.
Deeksha Patial, 17, also an orphan, lives with her grandmother at Amb village, along with a sister and brother, both in school. Deeksha hopes to eventually do post-graduation in nursing as that would “guarantee a job”.
Rani talks about how the DC, apart from enrolling her for the course, also sanctioned her family Rs 25,000. “He is like my father,” she says.