Beating starvation, COVID, destitute medical aspirants of Odisha on way to turn into doctors – education

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Born in humble families they were reconciling to their destiny, but fate had written a different class lesson for them.

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

Their dream of changing into medicos got wings because of noble initiative of an Odisha-based charitable group whose the entire 19 students succeeded in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), the result of which have been declared in October.

The winners are wards of day by day 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 starvation and shortage of money in childhood which prevented him from fitting a doctor.

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

The world has come to realize approximately the success story of Super 30 of mathematician Anand Kumar who helped economically disadvantaged children turn into 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 polite to retain 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 assembly 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 retain the home fires burning. But, providence helped her continue with her studies and today her wish of wearing a doctor’s apron is inside reach.

“My this life is committed 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 precedence.

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

“We got birth in humble families and were destined to live a life of penury. Its only as a result of the Zindagi foundation that we managed to retain our dreams alive and are on way to turn into doctors,” an elated Sahoo and Biswal said.

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

“The year 2020 used to be a hard challenge for all of us, but firm in our determination we did not let the students feel helpless,” Singh told PTI.

“I fell ill right through the lockdown, and came to Bhubaneswar in an ambulance and told everything to Ajay Sir.

He kept me at his home and given 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 at the back of 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 circle of relatives undergoing financial hardship and pursue studies.

Under the project, the talented students of the naughty financial background chosen through a state-wide screening test, are given free food, lodging and teaching to help them turn into 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 final year to finance the MBBS studies of a naughty fatherless girl, who used to be coached in ‘Zindagi’ programme.

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

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