Uttarkashi is home to 330,000 men, women and Mamta – one remarkably brave girl.
Mamta lives in Bhankoli, Uttarkashi with her family. Her father passed away in 2002 while her mother has been unwell a long time. The remote village she lives in is considered a disaster prone area. Life, at most times, has not been kind. Making ends meet has been a constant struggle.
In 1997, Mamta became associated with Plan India and Sri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) as a sponsored child. Through this association, she was able to pursue many activities and events that would help her blossom into a confident young woman. On completing her schooling, she enrolled in a training course on mountaineering. She went on to complete Advance Adventure and Search and Rescue courses in 2008 and 2010 from the Himalayan Adventure Institute and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) respectively, with Plan India’s support. Her abilities were recognised and she was employed as an instructor as soon as she completed the courses. Her life finally seemed to be coming together.
Till date, Mamta has successfully conducted over 50 training courses as an instructor. Her skills as a trainer shone through brightest when one of her students – Arunima Sinha (a special needs girl) successfully climbed Mount Everest. Mamta has also run a physical fitness programme for 50 youths so they can join the local police or Indian army.
In 2013 however, her skills were put to the ultimate test. While leading a group of 40 children as part of a mountaineering course, disaster struck. A flash flood hit the area putting their lives in grave danger. But for Mamta’s skills, the likelihood of their survival was bleak. Thankfully, she was able to use her knowledge and experience to guide her group to safety. Even more remarkable, during the disaster, she lent support to a further 5,000 people by relocating them to safer places.
Mamta’s heroism has garnered much praise from all corners of India. Tennis superstar Sania Mirza nominated her on “Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi” (Tonight’s the Night), a show on the acclaimed Star Plus television channel that honours people who have accomplished the extraordinary. She was awarded for her bravery by legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan in an episode that was televised nationally.
Mamta continues to work with NIM as an instructor, with youth in her community, and is part of the Green People, an agro-tourism initiative to promote sustainable development in Uttarakhand.