Momina Ghauri was born with a withered left leg, but she rarely spends time thinking about it. Least concerned about her own disability, she has committed herself to improving the lives of others.
Ghauri, 27, has been invited to tea with President Pratibha Patil next Wednesday in recognition of her sterling work in spreading literacy in a remote village of Morena district, in the heart of the Chambal area in Northwest Madhya Pradesh.
Ghauri works in Jigni village in a region where literacy is low. The literacy rate is 62.5 per cent, with that of women – among whom Ghauri mainly works – a dismal 42.4 per cent.
Over 100 women owe their ability to read and write to Ghauri’s efforts over the past few years. “It’s much more difficult to teach an adult than a child. Their mindset needs to be changed first,” she told HT.
Associated with the government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for all Programme), she recalled how sceptical illiterate women were when she first reached out to them. “How will learning the alphabet help me to look after my children, or rear cattle, or do the housework?” she was often asked.
Despite these odds — and lack of teaching aids barring a blackboard and some chalk — she went ahead. Her zeal alone saw her through and the numbers of her admirers spread.
In the day she also teaches at a state run primary school in neighbouring Khera village, where she lives.