Home schooling

An amputee with 4 limbs, she survives due to training

After having her 4 limbs amputated after contracting a severe form of dengue fever, Pratibha Hilim was thinking of leaving this world. This Indian teacher has regained the taste of life thanks to teaching and the desire to help students who are away from school.

By Glenda Kwek

When gangrene deprived her of her hands and feet three years ago, the plan to return to her students allowed Pratibha Hilim, an Indian teacher, to overcome the terrible ordeal. At 51, with a piece of chalk or pencil hanging from her arm, she now teaches young children in the remote village of Karhe, east of Bombay, where educational opportunities are minimal. “I have always loved children and if I had sat around doing nothing, I would be in another world right now, thinking about what happened to me.“, she confesses to himAFP.

Find meaning in your life

In 2019, Ms. Hilim contracted a severe form of dengue fever, aggravated by gangrene that required the amputation of her right hand. A few weeks later, surgeons are forced to amputate his left hand. Then both legs below the knees. “When my first hand was amputated, I was in despair that I would not be able to do anything in the future. I fell into depression. I haven’t spoken to anyone in eight days“, she says. But encouraged by her family during her recovery, Ms. Hilim finds meaning in her life by returning to teaching.

Homeschooling during the pandemic

For three decades, she had worked at a local elementary school. In 2020, when all schools are closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she starts homeschooling students whose parents are not wealthy enough to provide their children with distance education. . Schools reopened a few months ago, but 40 children from the village continue to attend her classes. “My children like to studysays Eknath Laxman Harvate, a farmer whose daughter regularly attends Ms. Hilim’s classes. Like many children, Mr. Harvate had to drop out of school as a teenager and start working, his family never “having enough money to pay for his education. He says he wants a better future for his children.”We will educate her as long as she wants“, he claims of his daughter.”I would have loved to continue studying. I am sorry that I had to stop and go to the fields because of problems at home“.

The power of determination

Like most of her students, Pratibha Hilim is an Adivasi, a general term for members of indigenous tribes in India. Adivasis are victims of deep discrimination and the fact that they generally live in isolated areas leaves them on the periphery of the Indian economic boom. In Karhe, many families are forced to withdraw their children from school to make them work. “Once they know how to read and write, this is considered enough and the children are ready to go to the fields.“, Mrs. Hilim expresses her regret. The teacher tries to push the children to continue learning, so that one day they can choose their own destiny.

Currently awaiting prosthetics, she says her fight to continue practicing her profession shows the power of determination. “I thought that without my limbs I was nothing, but then I made a firm decisionsays Mrs. Hilim. I decided that I can do anything, and I will do anything“.

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