Bhubaneswar, June 23: A friend, philosopher and guide, she’s the motherly figure for the children of jail inmates in Odisha. Meet 42-year-old Niroja Laxmi Mohapatra, the guardian angel for these children who look up to her as they strive to carve their own niches in life. Her concerted efforts through the years have yielded fruit with two of them becoming engineers and some others pursuing higher education and technical courses. Mohapatra is the supervisor of the Madhur Mayee Adarsha Siksha Niketan, a hostel for convicts’ children, located adjacent to the special jail in Bhubaneswar. Her unique hostel, which was launched with two children in 2003, houses over 60 students of different age groups today.
“The hostel opened with two children in November 2003 when the Odisha government was implementing a reform programme in prisons across the state. We started the hostel to help educate and provide a better life to the inmates’ children,” said Mohapatra. The hostel is maged by a non-government organisation, Odisha Patita Udhar Samiti, and depends on public funding. She said the NGO had conducted a survey to identify the children of jail inmates a few years back and brought 23 children here. “After deciding to set up the hostel for such children, we discussed it with the then IG-Prisons Bidya Bhushan Mohanty and the state government. The state Women and Child Development department accepted the idea and provided an initial investment to run the hostel,” said Mohapatra. She said it was the first ever hostel for the children of prisoners in India.
The state government has plans to take over the hostel for better magement and a secure life of the children of jail inmates, she informed. This hostel has become an incubator for these children who want to make a positive mark in life. And Mohapatra is sparing no efforts to help them achieve that. The first step is education. With the support of the hostel and due to Mohapatra’s earnest efforts, several youngsters here have secured admission in various schools and colleges. (IANS)