RAIPUR: While Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned into a yoga guru in Lucknow rallying the nation on World Yoga Day, Damini Sahu, a yoga champion with three gold and silver medals to her credit, charried head loads as a daily labourer to survive.
Ironically, Damini is from Chhattisgarh, where the state government recently set up a Yoga Commission as part of an awareness campaign for yoga. A resident of Darra village about 65 km from Raipur, Damini represented India in the South-Asian Yoga Sports Championship which was held in Kathmandu from May 6-9 after overcoming great difficulties.
“I didn’t have money to go to Nepal. On May 4, I pleaded with minister Ajay Chandrakar who is from our Kurud area for financial support but didn’t get any help. Finally, I had to take a loan at 2 per cent per month interest rate to attend the yoga sports event,” said Damini who began practising yoga when she was seven years old.
The 19-year-old won a gold medal at Kathmandu.
Despite repeated attempts Ajay Chandrakar, a health and panchayat & rural development minister, was not available for comment.
Damini said she has been struggling to get a labour card for the past several months. “After slogging for 8-10 hours daily I barely earn Rs 100-150. My mother too is a labourer. My father is handicapped with his right hand not working and mostly makes a living by selling balloons,” said the yoga champion who has three younger siblings.
A student of B.Com first year, Damini said, “My school has been a source of inspiration for me. Now I only do yoga if I can manage time in the evening.”