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DEOLI: On June 16 last year, 34 women from Deoli Bhanigram in Uttarakhand lost their husbands and sons in the Uttarakhand flash floods, dubbed "the Himalayan tsunami", which claimed thousands of lives.

Moving on from the tragedy and rebuilding their lives is difficult, but these women are determined to undertake the arduous journey.

Scarred by their loss, the women have been equipping themselves with various skills so that they can work and lead an independent life. Most of the women have taken up work for the first time in their lives, saying supporting their families is their sole motivation to work. Even young girls want to pitch in by working.

"I want to go to Delhi to get a job," says 20-year-old BA student Rachana Kapoorwan, who lost her father, a photographer at Kedarnath, in the deluge. The ambitious girl, who is aware of the listless job market, said, "I want to earn so that I can educate my two younger brothers as well as pursue higher education."

As reported earlier by TOI, the widows' families have been adopted by Brindeshwar Pathak, founder of NGO Sulabh International. Sulabh provides the affected families a monthly compensation and conducts vocational training for them. On Sunday, it started fashion designing and beauty courses in these villages.

The village is among the many from the state whose residents were dependent on the Kedarnath Yatra for their livelihood. Dhanita Arya, 23, from Serwani village was reported to have lost her husband while she was seven months pregnant. She still hopes for her husband's return.

"As long as I am alive I shall keep waiting for him. He will keep his promise and return," says Dhanita, fighting back tears.

Her husband, Sunil Arya, ferried pilgrims back and forth from the shrine on mules. Dhanita says he had called her on June 16 last year to inform her that he had escaped by climbing to higher ground but his animals were washed away. He is among the 3,800 missing persons, and is presumed dead. But Dhanita continues to hope.

Dhanita is determined to raise and educate their daughter Sonakshi and her two older children with the money she receives from Sulabh, the state government, and her income from stitching and candle making.

For Dhanita, like the women affected by the tragedy, work holds out hope for a better tomorrow.

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