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For Dhanita Devi, 22, life took a tragic turn six months ago when the flash floods that hit the pilgrim town of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand washed away her hopes and dreams. Her husband of six years died, leaving her alone to take care of the three children. The story is the same of Meera Tiwari, 26, who also lost her husband, a priest at the Kedarnath shrine.

But the two are not the only ones in the Deoli – Banigram village of Rudraprayag district to have lost their spouses. As many as 34 women share the same fate besides living in abject poverty, looking after their children and in some cases aged parents-in-law after the June 16 – 17 flash floods, which left scores dead and thousands homeless.

Infamously tagged “village of widows”, these women now have some ray of hope with the just launched vocational training centre by Sulabh International.

The NGO supports the widows and the unemployed youth with monthly financial support of Rs.2,000 and job-oriented training.

Livelihood training

Sulabh International Social Service Organisation adopted the village after it came to light that a large number of widows reside there and that 57 men went missing from there .

Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement, a social service organisation, said the residents were dependent entirely on Kedarnath for earning their livelihood till the natural disaster left them in disarray.

Pathak said the village was adopted to make the women self-reliant and ensure no one goes to bed without food.

“We do not want the village to be known as “village of widows” but want it to become a “model village”. We will take care of the widows and impart vocational training to them besides ensuring proper education to the kids,” Pathak said while launching a training programme.

The vocational centre will impart training to them in making candles, earthen lamps and wicks, sewing, providing basic education and making them computer literate. Area trainers will be taken on board to teach these women. The training centre has 12 computers and 25 sewing equipment, to be made available to those willing to learn.IANS

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