Sun shines for widows of Deoli in U’khand
The wounds are too deep to heal even a year after this ill-fated hamlet in Kedar valley came to be known as the ‘village of widows’, having lost 57 of its men to the catastrophic deluge that ravaged vast swathes of Uttarakhand but a helping hand from a leading NGO has brought a ray hope into their dreary lives.
A visit to the village a year after the tragedy when nothing but a deathly silence brooded over it, is a welcome relief as it has begun to throb with life again, thanks to the efforts made by Sulabh International which lent a helping hand to the women in distress to pull them back to their feet.
Though the void created in the lives of 34 women who lost their husbands in the tragedy can perhaps never be filled, they are learning to come to terms with their bland existence and recollect themselves to take on the challenges ahead. This was more than evident on Sunday as the village (a gram panchayat) took part in celebrations held by Sulabh to mark a year of its adoption of the hamlet to help it recover from the effects of the tragedy, in which thousands of people lost their lives.
23-year-old Dhanita is the youngest of the 34 women of this gram panchayat who were widowed by the landslides last year, having lost her husband Sunil and the family’s sole breadwinner in the flash-floods.
Singing lullabies to her daughter at her home in a remote valley in the Himalayas, Dhanita can now speak of her determination to fight for her family’s survival. Sulabh not only adopted widows but also the elderly and the children of this gram Sabha by donating Rs 2,000 per month to each of them.
Besides opening a w
ell-equipped training centre for computer education and tailoring, Sulabh pays Rs 1,000 to each affected family in this panchayat. Girdled by mountains, the widows at the Sulabh
training centre were occupied with assignments around the 22 sewing machines and a dozen computers the organisation donated in the month of December.
While the women say they are determined to learn ways to become breadwinners for their families, the trauma of losing their loved ones is still etched deep in their hearts. ‘All I did was just cry and sleep. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. How could I learn something new at this age and make enough money out of it?’ asks Savitri Tiwari,?a mother of three.
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