Travel that Moved Me – Meeting Doctor Didi in the Kangra Valley

Two years ago when I had just started with my Himalayan Journeys, I got to know about RangDe Organization through a friend who was their social investor. Honestly, I didn’t have much idea about their organization neither I was interested. Because my friend pestered me, I wrote a blog post about RangDe. [Click to Read]

Soon, I forgot about everything and fell in love with the Himalayas, again. My schedule meant planning a trip all week long and disappearing before the weekend started. It continued for a while and gradually I realized why our villages are important for all of us, be it a traveler or an industrialist, villages must exist. The idea of India is incomplete without our villages.

For me traveling means meeting new people who are unsung heroes of our society. And when one goes to villages, its highly likely that you will find someone who is making a dent in the Universe in his/her own way. During one of these journeys I met Dr. Kshama Maitrey, a Padam Shree Awardee, who chose to spend her entire life in the villages of Himachal just for the upliftment of womenfolk. And the dent she has made is substantial, I must say. [Click to Read Interview]

Kangra's Doctor Didi
Kangra’s Doctor Didi

Her mission is integrated and sustainable development of the rural folks. When she started, her primary aim was to provide basic healthcare facilities to the villagers, especially women. Today her NGO covers more than 500 villages in the Kangra District. The programme annually reaches approximately more than 20,000 people directly and more than 15,00,000 of them indirectly.

Knitting, weaving, organic farming, basic healthcare training are some of the training programmes her organization conducts in the Kangra Valley. They also help women run self help groups and thus enabling them to make their own living.

She, as a qualified MBBS Doctor decided to do something different with her life. Rather than jumping the US bandwagon, she decided to work with the womenfolk of a remote corner of the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh. And she was on her own. She worked solo for a decade or so.

Those who travel solo know what it means to be on your own on a lonely road or on a Himalayan Expedition. The journey is difficult undoubtedly, but the rewards are high. 

Doctor Didi's NGO - CORD
Doctor Didi’s NGO – CORD

A solo traveler can easily relate to what happened with Dr. Kshama. She used to walk miles in the villages just to convince the family of a pregnant woman to adopt safe health measures. Her stories of walking solo in the remotest regions of Himachal will inspire even a hardcore mountaineer because the kind of battles she fought, with her own people, are truly awe-inspiring. Her hard work soon started giving rewards. Villagers who were reluctant to join her were now her messengers to spread the message to distant corners of the Kangra Valley.

The message of woman empowerment and sustainable development.

And she earned a nickname too for herself, people lovingly started calling her Doctor Didi.

Her NGO has come a long way and today she is a renowned figure not only in Kangra but across the nation.  She also won the prestigious Padam Shree Award for her exceptional work in the villages of Kangra Valley.

So next time you are in or around Dharamshala, pay her a visit. She can be contacted at +919418036987/984

My meeting with Doctor Didi made me more responsible towards my villages and our people. Whenever I travel, I try to contribute to the rural economy. I also make sure that my journeys do not subtract anything from the village environment. If I can’t add to it, I try my best not to take out anything that could affect their lives. And on top of it, I always respect local culture.

“This is my entry for “Travel That Moved me” contest, in support of Rang de, conducted by desi Traveler .

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