” My sister and I will appear for 10th Board Examinations. We are confident that we will come out with flying colours. Both of us want to join Indian Police Services. I am sure it is not impossible. I have seen many examples of students coming from more dismal past making it big”, said Kapura Marndi beaming with confidence.
Kapuri Marndi born amidst crusading poverty in a remote village in Mayurbhanj District of Odisha lost her mother when she was eight and her sister, Payomani was barely a year younger and the youngest sibling was just one year old. To add to the miseries of the disheartened family, their father got married within one month of mother’s death and never returned.
” We were all alone. Being the eldest in the family, the burden of my family fell on my shoulders. The only support I had was my old grandmother.” reminisces Kapuri teary eyed.
The family hardly got two square meal a day. They survived on the meagre income from the only asset they possessed, a cow. She started working as domestic help. The younger sister would assist her in grazing cow. The grandmother was old enough to take any burden and the brother was just an infant. The sisters could not continue to go to school, keeping in mind the compulsion of hunger, more urgent a need than Education.
” Our struggle was for a bowl of Pakhada( Rice soaked in water ). Every night I was engulfed in the worry about food.” recollected Kapuri.
Miracles happen and they happen when you least expect. She heard about an Institute called KISS in Bhubaneswar, that provides free education, food, clothing, health care facilities and skill empowerment from a friend from a distant relative who was moved by the pathos of the family. It gave a ray of hope to Kapuri. The desire to become stable to look after the family was enlightened. She convinced her grandmother and both the sisters came to KISS with the relative to take admission at KISS.
” I was not interested in studies that time. The only thing that attracted me towards KISS was food and a safe living. I wanted to make sure that both of us get the benefit of the benevolence of some Samaritan who has found such an institution.” recalled Kapuri most vividly.
Kapuri and Payomani took admission in the fifth standard. They regained the zest to study and make themselves independent. They saw several successful students of KISS. The students were excelling in Sports, academics and other Extra Curricular activities. It inspired them to study well. They also enrolled the younger brother in the village school as they realized the importance of Education. They send the money they earn as a part of ” Earn while you learn” policy at KISS. At KISS, the students choose a vocational trait and pursue that in non-academic hours. The produce earns them a pocket money, which is deposited in their respective bank accounts.
” I am extremely happy at KISS. Only when I see parents of my friends visiting, I feel a little low. But then, I smile. KISS is my father, mother and a guardian. Our mother left us when we were too young and father has not seen us ever after. Had I not been in KISS, I would have been grazing cows. Our little brother would have worked as a menial labor in the hills. We would have still struggled for food. KISS has guided our movement from darkness to brighter side of life” Kapuri said regaining her voice despite a choked throat.
Kapuri and Payomani walk with a gait of police and confidence of an achiever like several other tribal brethren who get bliss of KISS.