Alladini has single-handedly helped government officials reach out to 107 landless families, who are now entitled to land rights.(Shamim Qureshy/EPS)
She is the face of empowerment that is slowly transforming one of the most backward regions in the country. Meet Alladini Bacheli, 46, who has been felicitated by none other than Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik himself, for her relentless efforts to help landless labourers get land rights in the tribal-dominated Rayagada district.
A community resource person with the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme (OTELP), Alladini has single-handedly helped government officials reach out to 107 landless families, who are now entitled to land rights.
Her work is far from easy. The villages she walks to are miles away from the district headquarters—the town of Rayagada where she lives. She must survey each and every household in every village allotted to her and identify the landless families.
The work has to be done meticulously to sift geniune cases from the fake ones. Threats by the undeserving to get their names listed are part and parcel of her job, but she has never given in to such pressure.
At times, she tells you, she had to venture out after dark for work, but she derives the strength to face all odds from the fact that she has been able to help landless people like herself get land to call their own.
Alladini’s own story, too, has been one of extreme hardships and struggles–a constant fight for survival. It must have been therapeutic then to help the poor and vulnerable come out of their misery.
“My father, a gardener in a missionary school, deserted us when we were all quite young. While my mother did odd jobs to look after the eight of us, I quit studies after school to share her burden,” she says.
She, too, took up odd jobs to supplement the family income and help her younger brothers and sisters get a better life and education. While the mother and daughter slogged day and night to make ends meet, the father reappeared in their lives briefly only to succumb to a fatal illness.
In 2009, Alladini was diagnosed with a major illness that required surgery. Though she was confined to bed for 18 months, she never lost hope. As soon as she recuperated, she started hunting for work. This time, however, an opportunity came knocking. She was selected as a community resource person (CRP) under the Odisha Tribal Empowerment Livelihoods Programme (OTELP). The OTELP is a state run programme, with technical support from Landesa (an erstwhile rural developmment institute), to provide land rights to landless tribal families.
Being a landless tribal herself, Alladini understood the people she would be working with quite well. She devoted herself to the cause of helping poor families get land titles, which in turn opens up numerous entitlements under social and welfare benefit schemes.
Her programme officer Sridhar Kumar Sahoo is all praises for his grassroot trooper. “Alladini has been outstanding in her work. Her sincerity towards her work has helped us identify and aid landless tribals here,” Sahoo says.