Some women are lost in the fire and some women are built from it. Such is the story of 25 years old brave heart Mamta Rawat; a girl who risked her life to save the lives of 500 devastated people, even when her own house was being washed away by the torrential floods.
On June 16, 2013, when the havoc occurred in Uttarakhand millions of people became homeless, as their houses were washed off by the floods. During the crisis of flash floods, a young courageous girl Mamta as her name symbolizes ‘motherly love’ lived up to her name and became a mother figure for many children and pilgrims who were battling from the mouth of floods.
While the pilgrims were running in order to escape the inevitable from the upper reaches of Uttarkashi and Gangotri. Mamta was making her way up on her own, to be part of the rescue mission. She had no official badge, no uniform, no map, no government order or logistical support but still she chose to battle with the floods in order to save the lives of people. When asked, “Why did she choose to risk her life in order to save others?” she replied, ”I am a resident of Uttarkashi and I have the skills required to help the stranded people. If I do not come forward during distress then who will come ?”
During a student outing camp conducted by INME, a Delhi-based adventure sports company Mamta who was working as a freelance instructor displayed her bravery by saving the lives of 30 school children. These students were between the age group of 14-16 years who had come for an adventurous hiking to Dayara Top. When the havoc occurred Mamta along with two other persons, took the children to safety from the mouth of the raging floods. She saved these kids from landslides and crossed a quiver bridge over river Aksai Ganga. When, the fervently flowing river was trying to wash away the bridge. Mamta took each and every child in her arms and carefully crossed the bridge. After bringing the children safely to Uttarkashi town, she single-handedly took care of them. Mamta, who was worried about the children’s safety, took a sigh of relief when the route from Uttarkashi to Dehradun was opened. She handed the children to their respective parents and went forward to help the stranded pilgrims who were traversing down to Uttarkashi from Gangotri, where the roads were washed away completely.
Mamta then joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and helped in the search and rescue operations. During one such rescue mission, she carried a middle-aged pilgrim woman on her back in order to bring help for her. She hurried down the mountainous terrain with the unconscious woman on her back for over 3 km, to get her evacuated by a helicopter for further medical assistance.
Her house with which her memories were deeply associated was partially damaged in 2013 floods and a year later, the remaining was washed away, taking away the only roof left over her head. Today, the same girl who saved a lot of families from getting broken is living with her family of 6 members, under a broken tin roof. When a Dehradun-based NGO, Leap Foundation asked her, “What kind of help she wanted in regard to her house?” she said, she required nothing but it’s her village which needs rope/cable bridges to cross the rivers, as all the old bridges were washed away by the floods.
Mamta had seen a lot of bad days in life. During her school days, she had to leave her education in order to take care of her family. She struggled a lot for completing her Basic Mountaineering Course from NIM, Uttarkashi. As she was financially weak, she waited for another two years in order to save Rs 5000 to do an advance course. She wanted to become self-independent therefore, she completed her training for getting employed in adventure field. As she was a great performer, she did well in her Advance Course and managed to get a sponsor to fund her next course, the Method of Instructor Course. Later on, she did the Search and Rescue Course which helped in saving the lives of the people. Now she is a professional mountaineer and a well-qualified instructor.
Mamta tells, “I wrote to the district authorities once in 2012 when my house was partially damaged due to the floods, but no action was taken. This year again, I wrote to the district DM’s office. When I did not get any response, I followed up with the DM’s office, an inquiry was conducted and I was told that some officials will come to assess the situation and thereafter, compensation will be given. But nobody has come so far and I haven’t got any compensation till date”.