People living in remote hamlets of the tribal areas in Maharashtra lack basic facilities, like healthcare, and education. The tribal communities have worse health indicators as compared to the people living in the metropolitan cities. Malnutrition and lack of awareness about personal hygiene makes them even more vulnerable to the diseases.
In the past, the courts have come down heavily on the state government, for neglecting the tribal people. But, the administration’s apathy towards the tribal people has been continuing for several years.
But, one woman from Thane has been working relentlessly for the upliftment of the tribals. She especially works to bring the differently-abled children into the mainstream of society.
Meet Pramila Kokad, a teacher by profession, and she has undertaken an immense responsibility upon her shoulders. She wants to ensure that a ‘special’ or differently-abled child should be able to live a happy and independent life.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra Pramila Kokad, said, “I started teaching deaf children in the tribal area of Jawahar located in the Palghar in 1986. During the course of time, I witnessed grim conditions in which the differently-abled kids grew up in. People thought that these kids cannot do anything at all. And I then decided to give an opportunity to them to live an independent life. So, I started a residential school for these children.”
Pramila Kokad is known as Pramilatai in Jawahar tehsil of Palghar district, in Maharashtra. Since the past 35 years, she has been working for the differently abled kids in the tribal areas.
Pramila Kokad further says, “In 2007, I started a full-time residential school in Jawahar. A number of people and NGO’s helped me with the finances. Earlier the school was located in a rented premises. But, in 2015, we constructed ‘Divya Vidyalaya.’
Pramila and her team have walked a long way to establish a school for the tribal kids. But, her journey was not smooth. The main challenged was how to bring the kids to the school. As tribal people were not aware of education and were very poor as well.
Pramila further adds, “With an aim to bring the kids to the school, we had to counsel the parents. For that, we started extensively campaigning in rural areas. Gradually, parents started sending their kids to the school. Not only Palghar, children from neighbouring Nashik district also joined the school.”
Currently, 140 differently-abled children are studying in ‘Divya Vidyalaya’. Children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, deaf and mute, and slow learners are residing in the school.
In 2009, Pramila received an award Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities award for the selfless service, from the hands of President of India. The school at Jawahar is still helping these kids become independent citizens and securing a brighter future for them.