A strong will precedes a strong dream

Dipti Mayee Mahapatra, 12 years old, stays alone in her half-built roofless house somewhere in remote Puri until it gets dark and later sleeps at her aunt's home every day. One of Dipti's younger brothers is suffering from blood cancer and both her parents are staying with him for treatment in a government hospital in Bhubaneshwar.Her father, Kishore Mahapatra, used to run a small business, but had to sell it to meet the increasing financial needs of the family. He was unable to complete constructing their new house. Dipti's family is shattered and the government refuses to give them a BPL card since the family's income used to be above poverty line earlier. Dipti's little brother, aged two-and-a-half years, is taken care of by her aunt living in a nearby village.

Her teacher, Mr Mohanty feels sad that Dipti is facing many problems at this young age when she should be studying and playing. "Dipti is a brilliant student. It is unfortunate that she leads a miserable life and we hope that NGOs or government offer support to her family. She doesn't get to see her parents for months at times. Yet, she is very accommodating and independent despite all the problems," says Mr Mohanty.

Dipti washes clothes by herself and also cleans her house which is mostly full of dust due to wind and rains. Her dream is to become a doctor and serve needy patients free of cost. This ambition has developed over the years owing to the situation at home. She is aware that her father sold their property to manage her brother's treatment and also could not afford to complete constructing their new home. Her teacher says that Dipti is capable of studying MBBS but in the event of any monetary constraints, she will certainly excel in any field she chooses.

Dipti is supported by her Aunt who takes care of her with motherly love. Dipti leaves to school mostly on an empty stomach since she does not want to bother her Aunt for breakfast. She awaits the hot and nutritious mid-day meal served in her school and loves vegetable curry along with rotis. Her aunt says, "The Akshaya Patra mid-day meals are like homemade food. We are grateful that it is provided for free to all students, especially those like Dipti who are truly in need of it. I feel sad but it's my duty to take care of her. I wish she is soon relieved of all the difficulties and leads a happy life."

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