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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

A 15-year-old girl hailing from Jagannath Prasad of Ganjam district has turned into a 'man for her family' and taken over the responsibility of her three other minor siblings after the death of their parents.

As per reports, Laxmi Malick, a resident of Chudakhai village under Kudutai Panchayat resided with her parents and three siblings. Laxmi's mother Runu Malick died after failing to get treatment for blood cancer during the lockdown imposed last year. 

But, this was not the end to the family's misery. Their father Markand Malick, who took over the responsibilities of the children by toiling day and night as a labourer, also lost his life 10 months later when both his kidneys failed to work.

Laxmi being the eldest daughter of the family took over the burden of nurturing her three siblings including Sumit Malick (10), Pramila Malick (11) and a 5-year-old girl, who is the youngest among the siblings. 

While Laxmi herself is a minor, without any options, she had to leave her studies midway to become the guardian of her three younger siblings. 

Unlike a child of her age, Laxmi's days begin with household chores and followed by role of a teacher as she aims to educate her sisters and ensure their bright future. 

The girls have no one to take care of after their parents left them in the midway before they had even begun to know the world. Though Laxmi has taken over the responsibilities of her siblings, she stares at an uncertain future as they have no financial backup. 

However, instead of breaking down in the face of unprecedented burden, in the midst of all these hardships, Laxmi has not backed down from working as a labourer to earn something for her younger brother and two sisters. Alongside, she is also making plates from leaves in her spare time at home. With her earnings from both sources, she has somehow managed to feed their empty stomach. 

When their mother was alive, Laxmi and Pramila had learnt to make disposable plates from leaves which have come as a big aid for them during such a time of distress. 

"When our parents were alive, we used to study. But, after they passed away, we are leading lives in miserable conditions. Along with cooking and other household chores, I have to ensure about other essential things for my siblings. I request the government to extend help to us so that we can overcome the challenges to some extent," said Laxmi. 

Meanwhile, Pramila said, "We will give hard labour for studying to ensure our bright future. We have seen our elder sister doing hard labour and also making disposable plates from leaves to feed us."

The family has a house availed under the Odisha government's Awas Yojna and also a ration card for some basic essentials. 

Meanwhile, villagers have appealed for help from the government or support from any individual or organisation for the family of four minors, who are leading their lives in misery. 

"The family of four children is living with the support of villagers. If the government can extend some help, they will get a new hope of life," said a villager.

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