The Odisha woman farmer has shown to the world that for undertaking service, one doesn’t need a big fortune
-Dr Samanwaya Nanda
Bharat has a long and rich tradition of sewa. It is the inherent quality and essence of Sanatan Dharma. Whenever, humanity or nation has faced any crisis, the Bharatiya society has always stood firm and responded to it. Be it at an individual level or at an institutional level, whenever there is extremity and pressing need, we have always stepped up and given succour to the needy. During Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdown, we have witnessed many examples where individuals and institutions came forward and helped those who were in distress. Smt Chhayarani Sahu, a woman farmer of Odisha was one of them, who has set example of self-less service to the fellow villagers by distributing free vegetables, during the duress.
Her exemplary act of sewa work during the corona pandemic and flood has set a high standard of kindness and generosity and will certainly inspire many generations to come. She is definitely the embodiment of Bharat's rich culture of selfless seva, kindness and generosity. She has proved again that in order to help the needy you need not require a big fortune but a heart which can empathise with the needy.
Smt Chhayarani Sahu, the 57-year-old farmer of Kuruda village under Basudevpur block in Bhadrak district, distributed free vegetables to the rural populace who were reeling under the lockdown. She distributed vegetables in at least 28 villages in many panchayats, including Lunga, Brahmanigaon, Binayakpur and some wards in Basudevpur municipality.
Smt Sahu feels very happy and contented by distributing free vegetables to the poor. “During the lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed people to contribute generously to PM Cares Fund and to help the people in distress, people were contributing to the PM Cares Fund and Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Since I did not have a big bank balance, I decided to contribute to the society by distributing vegetables from my farm among villagers. It gives me immense pleasure as people appreciate my endeavour and bless my children,” says Smt Sahu.
During lock down, she distributed 420 quintals of vegetables. She used to make vegetable packets and distribute in nearby villages. Accompanied by a group of volunteers, Smt Sahu moved around in a van with packets of vegetables and distributed at the doorsteps of villagers. The packets contained brinjal, lady's finger, tomato, green chili, onion, a piece of pumpkin and cucumber.
The mother of four -- two daughters and two sons – Smt Sahu has been growing vegetables in her eight -acre farmland for the last three decades. She grows seasonal vegetables in her farmland. She is also into dairy farming and rears 25 cows. Her husband Shri Sarbeswar Sahu stands rock solid behind her and helps her in farming and runs a milk society. Most important aspect of Smt Sahu’s farming is that she does her farming in complete organic manner and does not use chemicals and fertilisers in farmland.
Since I did not have a big bank balance, I decided to contribute to the society by distributing vegetables from my farm among villagers. It gives me immense pleasure as people appreciate my endeavour and bless my children
“I don’t use chemicals and fertilisers because in my opinion chemicals and fertilisers are are like poisons. It makes the soil poisonous. I have 25 cows with me. So I get cow dung from them. I use cow dung as organic fertilisers. I also prepare insecticide on my own. I have taken training in that. Farmers should not use chemicals and fertilisers rather they should do farming in an organic way,” says Smt Sahu.
Chhayarani distributed not only vegetables but also milk among the villagers and on duty police personnel deployed in lockdown, when the local dairy society was closed for a few days.
Her sons, Santosh and Manas, along with volunteers Baikuntha Sahu and Rabindra Sahu were helping her in distributing vegetables during the pandemic.
Sewa work during flood
After heavy rains in the state, coastal districts of Odisha, including Bhadrak, witnessed flood-like situation in September 2020. This time, too, Smt Sahu lent helping hand to the needy. Smt Sahu distributed three quintals of chuda (flattened rice), 50 kg of sugar and biscuits. She also provided 200 pieces of gamchhas, sarees and dhotis to the poor.
“In lockdown period, people were facing many difficulties. In recent flood also, the people of Chandbali Block were in distress. So with my limited capacity, I tried to help the needy. Besides distributing chuda, sugar and clothes I provided cooked food to the people in distress,” says Smt Sahu. The local people have appreciated the noble work of Smt Sahu. “Her work during the Covid crisis and flood situation is praiseworthy. This will encourage others to lend a helping hand and support each other,” says a local villager.
VVS Laxman appreciates Smt Sahu
Former Indian Test cricketer VVS Laxman also lauded the selfless work of Smt Chhayarani Sahu during lock down period. “While there is a lot of suffering for people, it’s so wonderful to see people showing their humanity and selflessness,” Laxman tweeted. n