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Arunima Sinha : Inspiring Women Series

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Arunima Sinha used to be a National Volleyball player. Having lost her father at an early age, she grew up with her mother, elder sister and brother. One day while returning home in a jam-packed train, a few thieves got inside. Finding her to be easy prey, they asked her to surrender her gold chain to them. Arunima fought them and fended them off, when they tried to come on to her one by one. But then they came as a whole and attacked. Not one person in the packed compartment tried to help her. The thieves flung her off the train, and a passing train went over her foot as it lay numb on the tracks. She screamed piteously, but the sounds of the trains were far louder. Over the course of that night, 49 trains went by her as she lay in pain, in horror. Rodents would come and try to eat on her open wounds and she kept screaming. In her own words, she does not know how she survived the night.

The next morning, some local boys who had come to defecate on the tracks, saw her and took her to District Bareilly Hospital. Her left leg had to be amputated below the knee, to avoid gangrene from setting in. The horrors has not ended. There was no anesthesia available in the hospital, there were limited resources, so in a shocking move, the doctors sawed off her left leg below the knee, in front of her eyes while she was fully conscious. So terrible was the condition of the hospital, that a street dog soon walked in and started eating the leg that had been cut off minutes earlier.

Over the next few weeks, the locals and the media channels picked up this news and it became a furore in the state of UP. Politicians, womens’ groups all came to Arunima in hospital for their own mileage, promising her justice.

Over the days, the controversy became bigger, and in a bid to save fact, the political parties tried making her the scapegoat. First she was accused of travelling ticket-less in the train, but when CCTV footage showed her standing in the ticket line before the train journey, the parties changed tactics and stated she had jumped off the train to commit suicide. Nobody heard her or her family’s please.

Sitting numb in hospital, with one leg, and the world against her, Arunima decided that she would make the whole world listen to her story. But to do that, she needed to achieve something big. She decided then that she would climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. When she came out of the hospital, she went to meet Bachendri Pal – the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. Together they made a plan. With a steel rod in her right leg, and a prosthetic left leg, Arunima went to do her basic mountaineering course at Nehru Mountaineering Academy. Over the next 18 months, she trained under gruelling situations and climbed many peaks.

On 21st May, Arunima Sinha became the first female amputee in the world and the first Indian amputee to climb Mount Everest. The girl, whom nobody listened to in the cities, found her voice in the highest place in the world.

Today, Arunima Sinha has climbed four of the highest mountains in each continent and dreams of doing all 7. She also runs a non profit school for underpriveleged handicapped children.

True inspiration, Arunima. Salute.

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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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