The COVID-19 pandemic has produced unsung heroes from the remotest corners of India. What is heartening to note is that these are normal people, who do not think of themselves as heroes. It is their selflessness that makes them who they are, and one such person is Chhayarani Sahu who belongs to Odisha’s Bhadrak district and incidentally only speaks Odia. Chatting with her translator, she reminisces that she has been happily married to her husband Sarbeswara Sahu for the last 38 years. She is leading a blissful life at her home in Kuruda Post in Basudevpur district of Bhadrak, Odisha and her 8 acre farm where she grows all types of vegetables keeps her busy. Mother of two daughters and two sons, Chhayarani admits that while she has only studied upto 8th grade, she ensured that her children pursue their higher education and is proud that one of her sons has continued to do his PhD. However, lack of education has never been a deterrent for this gritty woman.
Post the outbreak of COVID-19, she decided to distribute her vegetables, free of cost, to all the nearby villages including Bhairabpur, Alabaga, Lunga, Brahmanigaon, Binayakpur and some wards of the Basudevpur municipality in the Bhadrak district of the state. She distributes an assortment of vegetables like tomatoes, pumpkins, brinjals, ladyfingers, carrots, beets, ginger, coriander, green chilies as well as spinach. “I have been a vegetable farmer since the last 30 years. I have already distributed 25000 kg of vegetables among 30 villages to the needy people. I am happy to let you know that there is a lot of support from my family, as well as from my fellow villagers in distributing vegetables to the needy, during this pandemic situation.”
Chhayarani also rears over 20 cows and distributes milk to the police personnel who she believes are the real fighters. “I always wanted to help others, right from my early days, which is why I have decided to help the needy in this situation. I can empathize with them as I know these villagers are dependent on daily labor jobs and have nothing to eat. I have been blessed with enough to eat and have so much milk as well, so I felt that I must do something for people who are not as privileged.”
Using local help from her village, Chhayarani has arranged rickshaws and autos to transport vegetables to other villagers. The team carries sanitizers with them and ensures that they maintain social distancing while they distribute these vegetables. “I can help with what I have, which is vegetables, and I thought that this is the right way for us to contribute towards COVID-19 relief work. As our village is in the red zone and there is a lot of patrolling here, we have also ensured that the policemen are given at least 10-20 liters of milk every day.”
A true example of being simple yet generous, Chhayarani’s actions speak louder than her words. And by taking these initiatives, she is ensuring that she is able to feed the needy at a time when it matters the most.