Real Heroes, a CNN-IBN initiative in partnership with Hindustan Times, celebrates extraordinary services of India's ordinary citizens every year. This year, the awards will felicitate 13 women who battled hard and conquered all obstacles to make a difference. Today we share four such stories.
At the age of 12, Tulsi Munda went to live with her sister 65km away in Serenda, where she earned Rs 2 from cutting stones and sifting iron from waste. In her free time, she would try and teach herself the alphabet. In 1961, she joined other Gandhians in their village forays. In 1964, she returned to Serenda and started an evening school for children of adivasis. In the next 40 years Munda helped establish 17 schools and educate 20,000 boys and girls, mainly tribals, in Odisha. Tulsi has received a Padma Shri award for her commendable work.
Child marriage is an evil that has ailed our country since times immemorial and nipped many a child's life in the bud. Real Heroes brings a real life 'balika vadhu', who, at the age of 16, fought with her parents and sent prospective grooms packing. Today, Bauri, from Purulia, West Bengal, is encouraging other girls in her village to resist child marriage and instead go to school. Alongside this, she is waging a battle against alcoholism. Rural India needs more feisty young girls like Bauri to bring about a positive change. Lateefabibi M Giteli
The 2002 Godhra carnage left behind torn com-munities, widows, orphans and scarred lives. The riots transformed Lateefabibi M Giteli, a housewife into a crusador. Today, through her organisation Al Fazal Educational and Charitable Trust, Giteli runs communal harmony programmes, building bridges between Hindus and Muslims.
She runs a vocational training centre for women. She also runs the only English medium school in the Muslim-dominated area of Godhara. Her undying spirit is slowly changing mindsets, through education and employment.
A transgender or Hijra, Ravi was a woman trapped in a man's body, facing social ostracism and abandonment by family. But he chose to embrace his feminine side and became Raveena. She then educated herself and landed a government job. Seeing others from her community suffer humiliation, Raveena decided to fight for them. Today, she runs 'Mitwa Sankalp Samiti' in Raipur and has helped more than 2,000 transgenders get ration and voter ID cards. She also runs employment programmes. In 2012, she organised the first Transgender Sports Meet.
Watch the extraordinary feats of these ordinary women in the special episode, today at 1:30pm & 7:30pm on CNN-IBN.