KAITHAL: For Mamta Sodha (30), scaling Mt. Everest was the final step in a long journey of overcoming hurdles with self-discipline, hard work and optimism. “I was sure my daughter will stand on Everest, that’s all she has ever wanted,” says her mother Mewa Devi.
The dusty town of Kaithal was too small for Mamta’s dreams and after her selection for Mission Mount Everest 2010 in December last year, she trained rigorously to achieve her childhood ambition. “The task of collecting the compulsory fund of Rs. 18 lakh was huge for a family like ours,” she adds. “Her father passed away five years ago, I am a housewife and we have limited means. But her cousins and uncles supported her.
They collected funds and grants for her from ministers and organisations. I am thankful to each one of the sponsors for making her dream a reality,” Mewa Devi adds. Mamta had received Rs 3 lakh from Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and another Rs 5 lakh from Congress MP Navin Jindal. Since her achievement, Mamta Sodha is getting congratulations from all the quarters. “We are very proud of Mamta’s feat. She comes from a poor Dalit family. Her mother is a widow and Mamta, the eldest of five siblings, is teaching at a college in Kurukshetra,” Haryana Financial Commissioner Dhanpat Singh says.
Recalling Mamta’s early days, her mother says, “Everyday at 4 am she would start cycling and jogging with a sack of 25 kg wheat on her back…She would say it would make her fitter for Mt. Everest.” “Once she hurt herself from a 40-feet jump but she climbed down without any support. Later she had to be operated and a steel plate was inserted in her ankle, but she didn’t give up,” adds Mamta’s mother. The family is waiting for her return and preparing to welcome Mamta as a local hero.
Mamta’s achievement is not just a story of how a Dalit girl’s hard work paid off but also a mirror of the changing social landscape of small towns that nurture and support the dreams of sports persons. “She was very clear about her ambitions….She wanted to climb Mt. Everest first and then think about getting married,” says Mewa Devi. Mamta never gave up her studies, informs her sister. “She was the best student of her college for three consecutive years and a national level hand-ball player and has represented the Kurukshetra University at various events.”
Monday, May 31, 2010