By Utpal Baruah
ITANAGAR, Jun 14: For Padmashree awardee Binny Yanga, a tribal woman in her late 50s, life means reaching out to the orphans and destitute despite having been afflicted with cancer.
Yanga was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 and doctors gave her just six months, but not only did she live beyond the deadline, she continued to work for Oju Welfare Association (OWA), set up by herself, which hosts 338 orphans and destitute.
Sitting in her office room of OWA, Yanga recalled, "I was numb with fear at what the doctors said. For six months I could not eat and sleep as fear of death haunted me all the time."
But gradually, she told PTI, the realisation dawned on her that since anyway she had to die one day, she would rather continue her work for the children of the lesser gods.
The Government of India conferred her with Padmashree award in 2012 in recognition for her selfless service.
"The award is the outcome of my long 32 years of hard work for the upliftment of the tribal society in Arunachal. I am fully satisfied now."
She also received the prestigious Durgabai Deshmukh Award in 2000.
Yanga's parents were also social activists, a fact which probably influenced her decision to take up social work since her student life.
She formed the All Subansiri District Girls Welfare Association and raised her voice against social evils such as child marriage, forced marriage, dowry among others.
She joined the first batch of women cadre under the Arunachal Pradesh Police in 1987 and the experience gathered there, where she closely watched the plight of girls, motivated her to set up shelter homes for such victims.
In 1979, she initiated a small adult education and nursery centre in Naharlagun and shelter home for girls and victims of child marriage, forced marriages and the destitute.
This humble beginning finally grew up to become the OWA which she registered in 1988.
Now the OWA runs many educational and charity services, including Shishu Greh (orphanage) crèche, maintaining 150 destitute children, short stay home for 45 destitute women and girls, working women’s hostel, family counselling centre and women’s helpline.
The OWA also runs educational institutions for 100 poor boys and needy tribal girls at low literacy pocket of Seppa, providing free education, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya at Jang, Tawang for 100 girls, Secondary school affiliated to CBSE at Naharlagun for poor and dropouts and Vocational Training Centre with various trades.
Apart from these two organisations, namely State Resource Centre Arunachal Pradesh and Jan Shikshan Sangsthan, Naharlagun, sponsored by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development are also functioning under the aegis of OWA.
Talking about her future plan, she said that being a cancer patient and having realised the trauma and difficulties associated with the disease she felt the need of doing something for cancer patients in Arunachal Pradesh.
She is also the founder of the Himgiri Multipurpose Cooperative Society, the objective of which is to cater to the needs of rural artisans and provide marketing facilities for their products.
Yanga was also nominated as a member of the Steering Committee on Voluntary Sector, Planning Commission, besides being associated with various other bodies like the executive committee member of the National Literacy Mission Authority, Ministry Human Resource Development.
She is also a member of the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women and Country Women Association of India.