Prem Lata was in her mid thirties when she lost her husband to Kargil Conflict that raged between India and Pakistan in 1999. With him she lost her joys, only support and her only source of income. She would have also lost her desire to live if she didn’t have the smiles of two daughters with her – Neha, a 5 year old and Chanda (nickname), a 3 year old.
Daughters gave Prem Lata strength, a reason to live, and also a hope for better tomorrow. Prem Lata was broken but she knew that she had the responsibility to provide for her young daughters. And she knew she didn’t have anyone else that she could depend upon for help.
Prem Lata lived in a small village in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh – a place that offered a view of mighty Himalayas, a wide window to nature, and an army of nice and supportive neighbors. But it lacked the most important thing that Prem Lata needed – an economic opportunity – a job that she could take up to support her daughters, herself, and her old parents in law.
She was young and beautiful. Many suggested that she should remarry. But Prem Lata knew what she wanted. In spite of not having enough money, in spite of not being educated enough herself, Prem Lata made her daughters’ education her sole mission in life.
It didn’t matter to her that certain sections of the society, that she lived in, constantly reminded her that she was a widow – an unlucky one who could cast her ominous shadow on those who came close to her. Her parents in law also passed away soon leaving her alone with young daughters but she wasn’t one to give up the fight.
Her husband, an Indian army jawan, laid his life while protecting his motherland and government pension took many months to come about. Finally, when it did, Prem Lata realized that it wouldn’t be sufficient to send her two daughters to a good school. She tried getting a government job to make up for the gap but not having minimum required education became a hindrance.
Prem Lata was ready to compromise on everything except for Neha and Chanda’s education – she got them admitted in the region’s best school.
She worked in the fields – sold produce – to support the family. And she continues to do so.
Today, Neha is in the most critical years of her education – going to be in 12th soon. In 10th, Neha ranked among the top 10 students in the state. Aspiring to be a doctor, she continues to do exceptionally well in academics.
Neha’s dedication to studies won her more support along the way. Her school teachers not only provided her constant encouragement but also contributed some towards her fee out of their own pockets.
Her younger sister, Chanda, doesn’t need to look far for inspiration. She’s closely following her big sister’s footsteps.
The two sisters have grown up into lovely young ladies. They don’t have too many memories of their father however, they both are very proud of him. They are strong, confident, and full of dreams. Above all, they are aware of all that their mother has been going through to support them.
Prem Lata is a proud mom who can’t wait to see her daughters in college and then pursue their dream careers.
Her eyes still reflect her immense loss. But on her face you only see one thing – a resolve of a mother to give her daughters everything that she can – a promise to not allow circumstances beat her down – a resilient pledge to secure her daughters’ future.
When the dream so deep, and effort so resolute, no challenge is challenging enough!
Let’s salute Prem Lata for fighting all odds to get Neha and Chanda educated. Let’s also salute all those who helped and supported, and continue to do so, in Prem Lata and her daughers’ journey into a better tomorrow!
Wishing Neha and Chanda a glorious future!