Friday, August 19, 2011

To dream and dare

Kadiyala Kamala (in the pic, with her younger brother) could very well have been just another name in the list of residents of Seethampet village in the Kothavalasa Mandal of Vizianagaram District (Andhra Pradesh). That it still is. However Kamala is a well known name in the whole town of Kothavalasa. A little further into the city of Visakhapatnam, especially amidst the medical fraternity of the government facilities, the same Kamala is fast gaining popularity. Besides being the youngest government employee, Kamala is today looked up to by many a youngster, even her own seniors from school, college and nursing school. But this was not the case earlier.

Born the eldest in the family is not always a blessing, so did Kamala realise early in life. With a mother who did everything in her might to keep the family together, and a father who barely was there at home sober and attentive, it was up to Kamala to find her way to fulfill her passion of doing her studies so as to become a doctor. With no financial means of procuring the required study material, she would borrow them from her companions late in the night after they had finished their study, sit up the whole night and return the books early next morning, so that her companions could study again. The lit stove at home was not an everyday reality. Much less, the lunch box. It was her sheer determination to study that saw her secure 82% in her tenth standard board exam from the local Catholic missionary school, St Mary's. Having secured one of the highest ranks not only in her school but also in the vicinity of Kothavalasa mandal, some intermediate colleges offered her a free seat. She chose the one closest to her house, so as to be of help at home too.

It was during this time, as she contemplated, what next, that she began to speak to Fr K.T. Jose, the Rector of St John's Regional Seminary, whom she knew since her school days and who had often helped her with some books, uniform and class fees – thanks to the generous educational support of Fr Luigi Zuffetti, through Don Bosco Missioni, Italy. Thanks to his guidance she saw a beacon of light for the fulfilment of her dream of wearing the white coat one day.

Fr K.T. Jose explained to her the different options she could choose from and then recommended her to the St Ann's Nursing School at Malkapuram, an institute run by the St Ann's Sisters of Luzern (India), on the outskirts of the city of Vizag. That, according to Kamala, proved to be the turning point of her life. Today she cannot stop thanking and singing the praises of the Sisters who according to her, turned her life into a miracle. “They really taught me how to be the best of who I could be. It was from them that I learnt how to live, share, pray and love. I can never ever forget what they did for me,” shares Kamala. Everytime she utters 'St Anns' she almost jumps up in the air for joy! She is specially all praise for Srs Mercy Tom and Regi. She has imbibed the 'St Anns' spirit so much that listening to her speak English, none would doubt that she is from a purely rural Telugu background. All along Fr K.T. Jose was her constant guide and help.

Much before she completed her five year stint at the nursing school and notched the second best mark (84.3%), she was offered a top job at the Rajiv Gandhi Medical Institute, Visakhapatnam. Of the 20,000 job applicants for a mere 270 government posts, Kamala holds the record for being the youngest to be selected to date. Today, the 21 year old Kamala, with just a year of working experience at the institute, has been handpicked to undergo a specialised training in Visakhapatnam itself.

Though financially secure, she has not forgotten her early days. It is her mother that she loves dearly. Her example of hard work and love for the family are something Kamala cherishes most. Her father too is a changed man now. When asked as to what is the cause of this dramatic development in her life as well as that of her family, Kamala is quick to respond: “Jesus Christ and His gracious blessings!” Her initial dream of becoming a doctor has now a definite shape: she has set her mind on becoming the medical superintendent of the hospital. “Thus I can not only help people with their sickness but also get others to assist those in need and effect major health policies for the greater benefit of the poor,” is what Kamala is sure about. And her primary goal? To be the start of a series of success stories... to get others to dream dreams and have the will power to make those dreams come true.

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