“Our past doesn’t define us, our dreams do.”
These wise words belong to a 17-year-old girl, who is on a mission to prove herself to the world.
Rising above scorns and criticism, she has a strong message to share—“A doctor’s child will be a doctor, and a beggar’s child will be a beggar is a myth, and I will prove it!”
Daughter of two leprosy patients who earn a living by begging on the streets of Ranchi, Class 11 student, Anu Oraon, has proved the mettle of her words by emerging as one of the most promising basketball players in all of Jharkhand.
Gifted with a strong will-power and quick reflexes, Anu, in the past few years has found her place among the top cagers of the city.
In conversation with The Better India (TBI), the player shared that instead of limiting her, the conditions of her family encourage her to dream bigger and achieve more.
“I grew up amid a lot of financial and social limitations, but my dreams could not be restricted. That is what I tell myself every day. With support from my teachers, trainers, the school as well as my parents, I will make my dream come true and make my parents proud,” said Anu.
Her parents had contracted leprosy long before her birth, making it difficult for them to provide for her, and her four siblings. That is when a social organisation, Damian Welfare Society, took the then four-year-old Anu under their wings.
In order to give her a better life, the society enrolled Anu in Nirmala School, Dhanbad from where she recently passed her Class 10 boards in the first division. Owing to her stellar performance in sports, Anu was able to get a full scholarship in Guru Govind Public School to pursue her senior secondary education.
Speaking about her family, she said, “My father, Tunwa Oraon is afflicted with leprosy in both his hands and feet, while my mother, Babi’s left leg is affected. With the Damian Welfare Society’s help, my younger sister is also getting an education. Whatever they earn is still not enough for all of us at home, but my pursuing education and sports gives them hope.”
She misses home and her family, but the thought of a better tomorrow keeps her going, she added.
“My parents have sacrificed a lot for us, and I want to give them a better life in the near future. For that, I will work my hardest and do my best” said Anu.
Though Anu had always harboured a dream of joining the army, she found her true calling in sports, in 2015, when she was in Class 7.
“I didn’t have much idea about basketball back then, but because I like playing sports in general, I joined in for the practice. As the training slowly progressed and I began to do well, a new world of opportunities opened up. I realised that this is exactly what I wanted to continue doing,” Anu adds.
While dribbling past her challenges, her breakthrough moment arrived in 2018, when she got the opportunity to represent Jharkhand in both, junior and senior national championships. Spotting her talent, she was then sent for a month-long U-18 training camp to Bengaluru by the Jharkhand Basketball Association. This event provided her with the opportunity to ‘rub shoulders’ with top cagers and learn new techniques and strategies.
Since then, her career as a basketball player has been bounding toward success. She represented Dhanbad in the inaugural edition of State Games held from 12 till 14 February 2018, at Hotwar in Ranchi.
But, all this, she says, is not just her doing. She gives due credit to Guru Govind Singh Public School for actively supporting her dreams in every possible way.
“The school is a huge support in propelling me toward my dream, but I have to balance both my practice and studies. I won’t compromise on either of them. So, every morning I wake up at 4:30 and study till 6:30 am. Then, I leave for school which starts from 9 am and goes on till 12:45 pm. I return home at 2:30 pm, eat my lunch by 3 and leave for practice, which starts at 4 and continues till 5:30 pm to 6 pm. And, on weekends, I add in extra hours of practice in the morning as well,” shared Anu.
With big dreams in her eyes, this young girl has been fighting all tribulations with sheer grit and confidence. “She has become an inspiration for many students in the school as well as in the state. We do our best with the training and good nutrition, but it is her hard work and sincerity that will eventually take her to a bright future, making not just her parents, but all of us, extremely proud,” said Karol Samanta, her trainer.
Way to go Anu!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)