Odisha woman turns laborer to pay engineering course fee
(Sourced from PTI)
No work is small or insignificant, says 22-year-old Lozy Behera, an engineering diploma holder from Odisha, who had enrolled her name as a laborer under the MGNREGA scheme to fund her college fees. The student of a Bhubaneswar-based private college, Behera was first noticed by a local news channel when she was carrying a basket of mud at a road construction site.
Behera, born in a poor Dalit family, worked for 20 days at a construction site at Delang block in Puri for a daily wage of Rs. 207 to gather money to pay the fees and earn her diploma certificate that the college had allegedly withheld seeking clearance of dues. "I never felt ashamed of the work that I was doing," she said.
Her story soon became the talk of the town, prompting district officials to reach out to her with help. Shortly after, college authorities rushed to her residence with the certificate. "Some may look down upon me, but I don't see a reason why I should feel ashamed. I worked for the community road development project and earned Rs. 207 a day," Behera said.
"I found it to be a good opportunity to earn something to pay my college fees," Behera, daughter of a mason said. "Authorities at my college had refused to give me my certificate for not being able to pay hostel fees of Rs. 44,500. My father works as a mason, and we are five sisters. I could deposit only Rs. 20,000," she said.
Behera had two of her sisters, one of them pursuing B.Tech, working by her side at the construction site. "We were sitting idle at home during the lockdown when the sarpanch asked villagers to work for a road development project," she said.
Members of Odisha Mo Parivar, the social service wing of the ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD), has recently handed over a cheque of Rs. 30,000 to the gritty woman for her education. Heaping praise on Behera for her hard work and perseverance, Puri Collector Samarth Verma said he would try and find her a job in the district.
Behera, the eldest among siblings, said she would want to help her sisters with education. "Puri Collector Verma has promised to find me a job. I am hopeful that I will be able to support my family once I get a job," she added.