Rayagada: In an era when people are mostly selfish and think mostly about their personal gains, 75-year-old Rupuli Jakka from a remote area in Odisha’s Rayagada district is an inspiration for all. When she was a young woman, Rupuli’s father advised her to put the needs of others before hers and, taking this to heart, this septuagenarian woman has been helping the poor and needy in 18 villages in the Halua Pachanayat to uplift their lives.
“I have been doing this for more than four decades now and desire to continue helping people till my last breath,” says Rupuli.
Even Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has praised Rupuli’s contribution to society. Taking to his Twitter handle, the Chief Minister wrote, “Commend Rupuli Jakaka from Rayagada district for raising issues faced by local residents before admin & helping them find a solution to it. Her good Samaritan work will inspire others to be partners in ensuring last mile delivery of welfare schemes.”
Rupuli herself is an underprivileged woman with the burden of running a family of four – her daughter, grandson and granddaughter and earns a living by toiling on others’ land. The other source of income includes 20 kg of rice from the PDS and a Rs 500 old age pension every month. She doesn’t even have a proper house or drinking water facility. The lack of these basic amenities has not deterred Rupuli from her mission to help the poor uplift their living.
Ignoring the urgent need to repair her own hutment, this 75-year-old woman moves from one village to another every day to repair the houses of other people spending money from her meagre earnings. She is determined to create awareness among the poor about the different government welfare schemes meant for them so that they can improve their lives.
Rupuli takes pleasure in her work and many organisations, including the district administration, have recognised and honoured her for her relentless services to society.
Married at an early age, Rupuli lost her husband allegedly owing to a lack of government assistance for his treatment. She was all but broken after her husband’s untimely demise but her father stood beside her during the tough times. He encouraged Rupali to stand firmly with the people and fight for their rights. He explained to her the plight of the villagers in the region as they could not avail the benefits of government schemes meant for them. Inspired by her father’s words, Rupuli has been working like a crusader since the age of 31. Now, she is 75 years old and says that she was so engrossed in her work that she never realised how time went by.
Villagers in Halua Pachanayat of Rayagada district who have benefitted from the efforts of Rupuli assert that the lady has helped over 5,000 people get the benefits of government schemes and improve their lives.
Rupuli Jakka leaves home at 9:00 am every day and returns home in the evening after her routine rounds. She ensures that all the elderly in her panchayat receive old age allowance, people do not have problems in availing of death and birth certificates, and are included in the government’s food security scheme and several other benefits provided by the government.
Rupuli has no time to rest even after she is back home. Every night several people from 18 villages visit her home seeking her help in receiving the benefits offered by the government. She looks into every detail such as who has been deprived of free rice, not received a death or birth certificate despite making rounds of the panchayat office and even who needs to visit a doctor for treatment.
She makes a list of all these issues and sends the list to the concerned departments.
Though Rupuli has studied only up to Class VII at the Halua Pachanayat School Sahi, she knows the three Rs well. She writes the complaints of the villagers and reaches them to the respective departments for redressal. No doubt Rupuli is a darling of the villagers and a favourite of the district administration whose workload has been reduced by her efforts.