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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: An organisation here is helping wards of humble vegetable sellers, fishermen and marginal farmers crack the NEET exam to qualify for admission in medical colleges and has launched a campaign to reach out to more such students.

The NGO runs a foundation called 'Zindagi' in Odisha, which is similar to the 'Super 30' experiment of mathematician Anand Kumar, to help students hailing from poor family become medicos.

It has now launched a campaign called 'Jeet Zindagi' (win life) to reach out to more aspiring students.
The organisation head Ajay Bahadur Singh said, "I am committed to inspire many young and bright minds to bring positive changes in their lives.”

"The campaign has begun from here. I will go to many more places within the state and outside to give a push to talents which fail to blossom for want of resources and proper guidance," he said.
If a student has talent, he or she will definitely find ways, he said adding "We are ready to assist them in their pursuit."

Singh, an academician, said he himself had to experience many odds in life but never succumbed to them.
He had to quit preparing to become a doctor due to his father's kidney ailment in 1990 and sold tea and sherbet to help his family.

"In order to meet medical bills of my father and meet the needs of the family, we sold the gold and silver ornaments and our home in Deoghar (now in Jharkhand)," Singh said.

But, it was not enough as all the money was used in the kidney transplant operation and other medical expenses for his father.

"With no help coming from any quarter, I started selling tea and sherbet at the Shravani mela at Deogarh," Singh, who is his 40s, said in a choked voice.

Singh said his efforts to help children from poor backgrounds was undertaken to fulfill his own shattered dream of becoming a doctor.

The motivation to start the 'Zindagi' programme came from a personal experience.

Singh had encountered a girl selling garlands outside Lord Jagannath temple at Puri, who made a fervent request to people buy them so that she can finance her studies.

In 2016, he launched the 'Zindagi Foundation' in Bhubaneswar to help students who share his plight.
At present 19 meritorious students, both girls and boys, hailing from economically poor families, are part of the programme run by it.

Under the programme, talented students from poor financial backgrounds are selected through a statewide screening test are provided free food, lodging and teaching to help them become a doctor.

Fourteen of its students had cracked NEET in 2018 and 12 of them got their admission in government medical colleges of Odisha. They were hosted by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in July to appreciate their achievements.

The initiative to mentor aspiring medicos from financially downtrodden families recently drew effusive praise from Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan among others.

The Bollywood hero, who earned accolades for playing mathematician Anand Kumar in the recently released 'Super 30', took to Twitter to laud the efforts of Singh in helping Odiya boys and girls from remote areas of Koraput, Malkangiri, Berhampur and Angul and other areas in fulfilling their dreams.

A PTI reporter, who recently saw a class in progress at the Foundation, interacted with pupils who were wards of vegetable sellers, daily labourers, fishermen and marginal farmers. These youths so far could not, even in their dreams, aspire to become medicos as it demands expensive study materials and coaching.

The Zindagi Foundation has given wings to the dreams of Kshirodini Saho, daughter of a marginal farmer of Angul district, Rekha Rani Bagh, daughter of a labourer from Koraput, Smruti Ranjan Senapati, son of a truck driver of Bhadrak district, Satyajit Sahoo, son of a vegetable seller of Panagarh in West Bengal and Manjit Bala, whose father catches fish in east Malkangiri as a living.

But the students are upbeat and their financial hardships do not appear to deter them.
"When a tea seller can become a prime minister (Narendra Modi), why cannot we become a doctor?" said Subhalaxmi Sahoo, the daughter of a marginal farmer of Khurda district.


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