With Mother’s day coming up this Sunday, once again people across the globe are ready to celebrate motherhood. But, our mind was on the motherless children and how they grow up without the love of a mother to lean on. And, guess what? We came across a special mother, whose story is worth mentioning. The City Express brings you the tale of Annapurna Dash, who has been a mother to orphans for over 25 years.
The 63-year-old lady is full of energy and passion. She is popularly known as ‘Mother of Orphans’. As she talked about her life and children, you could feel the pain, troubles and miseries she had faced and overcame with hard work. However, she possess unparalleled confidence, gained over the years through her experience.
Hailing from a middle-class family in Jamshedpur, Annapurna always had a desire to contribute towards welfare of the society. Soon after completing her masters in Economics, she joined the SOS Children’s Village in Bhubaneswar, a child care NGO, in 1992. “Though my father suggested me to get married, I knew I had to do something for those kids,” she said. Thereafter she was sent to a Mother’s Training Centre in New Delhi and returned to Bhubaneswar in 1993 to commence her journey as a mother for 27 orphan kids. Annapurna dedicated herself completely to ensure proper growth and development of all the children during 26 years of her service. She raised them with love and affection and helped them build careers for themselves. “I am a mother to those who have nobody. I provide them shelter, take care of them and bring them up- that is where my happiness lies,”Annapurna said.
Talking about one of her memorable moments, she says, “Within a week of joining the NGO, I was given the responsibility of the first child. A day-old baby girl was placed on my lap and I was told to be a mother to her. I was overwhelmed. I felt the same way for each kid who grew up in front of me.”
She faced several challenges during Super Cyclone in 1999. And, her struggle continued in everyday life too. “Many a time when some of the kids used to fall ill around midnight, it got tough for me to handle. Another hard moment for me was when I had to make the kids ready for school at the same time in different uniforms and prepare various sorts of breakfast for them,” she recalls. Annapurna gets depressed when she hears about women abandoning their kids due to unfavorable situations at different places.
Even after having retired from the NGO in 2015, Annapurna did not go back to her family; rather she adopted some of the children who couldn’t continue staying longer in the NGO after turning 18, as per legal rules. Her adopted girls Archana (23) and Rakhi are pursuing MCA and BBA respectively.
Her son Abhisek (19) is studying Audiology. Her other sons, Dillip Singh and Sushant Mallick recently came with flying colours in HSC examination conducted by BSE. Twenty-five-year-old Upasana Dash who is now a PR professional manages the entire family.
Many of her adopted children have become lawyers, doctors and academicians. She is even in touch with all of them. She has received several awards for her extraordinary support to orphans. Now, her only wish is to marry off her daughter Upasana.
“We have never seen God but for us ‘Maa’ is God. I was a one-and-a-half year old child when she started taking care of me. She adopted me and paid for my studies,” Upasana said.