A criminal psychologist by professional standards, life had different plans for her. She grew up in a small tribal town of Assam. The tribal ways of life always intrigued her, so much so that she wanted to be able to do something for them. A Bengali by birth, she got married to a South Indian and moved to Southern India, but her life kept revolving around tribal people.
Meet Ananya Paul Dodmani, our WinningStree of the Week, and a mother to 208 adopted kids aged between 4 months to as old as 92 years. In the year 2019, Ananya got awarded the “Karamveer Chakra” which is a global civilian honor under United Nations for enlightening tribal lives. She is a Tribal Rights Activist and a Sustainable Menstrual Warrior and works towards the cause with utmost dedication. She pledges 95% of her earnings from being a psychologist towards tribal welfare.
Presenting The Story Of This Strong-Headed And Iron-Willed Lady!
Who are you and how are you into what you do?
Well, to start with am just an ordinary girl brought up in a tribal state of Assam. Who knows exactly how it feels when you’ve to fight each day for your basic survival. Tribal terrains are difficult & inaccessible. So, every day is a challenge for a better life in terms of educational infrastructure, health & sanitation facilities & much more.
Tell us about your journey…
Born & brought up in the Northeastern state of Assam, I was always kind of inclined towards the tribal way of life. My Baba was kidnapped & tortured for days in the Northeastern region & I know what trauma it was as a family we had to undergo. It was during that time; I started working for the people in the region. Because I knew only education could change the Northeastern states primarily plagued by poverty & militancy.
Over a decade now working for Tribal rights & empowerment, things have changed drastically in those Tribal Habitats I work. Rex Karamveer Chakra, Kalki Gaurav Samman, Rashtriya Suraksha Bal Samman, Iconic Personality Award are few of those encouraging acknowledgments I received for working with the Tribals across India.
How did you get drawn towards the Tribal ways and their enlightenment?
As I’ve mentioned, the Tribal issues across India are always neglected in mainstream affairs. Also, my father’s kidnap & the subsequent trauma was a nail in the coffin. I knew I don’t have any other option than to get the Tribal issues at the forefront & fight for their rights & empowerment.
What are the pros and cons of being a Social Activist or the voice of Tribals?
I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to bring a change in the Tribal community, not many people know about. Every human being is born with a designated responsibility to execute. I absolutely believe that I am destined to be the voice of those lakhs of tribals across India. Over 18 years now, I couldn’t count one drawback of leaving my 9 to 5 job to work in those remote Tribal habitats.
What are the problems that you have to deal with while following your passion?
I love what I do, so when you’re passionate about things you do, nothing seems hurdle or a problem.
What kind of support do you look forward to from the Government or other sectors?
I have been working very closely with tribes across India, getting them access to proper education & teaching them basic life skills. My work takes me to the remotest of tribal habitats in an attempt to work for their betterment. It includes initiatives like building toilet blocks and changing rooms for girls. Like the one, I helped set up in the remotest Karbi Village in spite of it being plagued by militancy issues.
I would urge the government machinery & NGOs to come forward & help me in the holistic development of all the Tribal habitats across India.
How do you manage your work and travel especially during the current lockdown?
Not a day did I take off during lockdown & was constantly moving & transporting relief supplies across the Tribal habitats in India. I made a group of few tribal women & prepared 20000 reusable masks to be distributed for free in all the remotest Tribal habitats across Northeastern India.
Did you feel terrified being shot at twice and has it been able to dissuade your determination?
Not for a single moment. Incidents like these make me stronger & more of a warrior!!
What else do you do apart from being a Tribal Rights Activist?
I juggle many roles, but the best is cooking for my kids across so many tribal habitats. I can’t even keep a count of my kids aged between 4 months to 92 yrs who make me proud of being nothing but a mother. Motherhood is bliss!!!
That Winningstree Moment…
Ah! Too many! But my fondest moment is when my 86-year-old tribal kid passed with 92% marks in her 7th-grade exam!!
Three words you say to yourself while in front of the mirror!
I’ll keep trying!!
What makes you extraordinary?
Well, am just an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams!
Winning Message to Other Strees…
Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave me. I can’t think of better advice for anyone who’s struggling every day to be themselves. If you’re different, you will stand out & never ever give up!!
KEEP TRYING HOWEVER DIFFICULT IT IS!!!
Where can you be reached?
Well, most of the time my work takes me to places where there is neither Wi-Fi nor mobile network. So probably the best place to find me is in an unknown almost inaccessible tribal habitat quite close to the Indo-Myanmar border.
Your inspiring work towards empowering tribal men and women is commendable! We wish you good luck, O WinningStree!