Every year University of Science & Technology, Meghalaya (USTM) is conferring various awards of Excellence to the leaders of the society to encourage and inspire their contribution for the development of the nation. This year the department of Social Work, USTM has conferred the Social Work Excellence Award 2017 to two eminent social workers, Smt Mrinalini Devi and Sisiter Bertha G Dkhar, who have dedicated their entire life for the progress of the region.
The award was presented to Smt Mrinalini Devi, an eminent Social activist, Author, Poet and Sister Bertha G Dkhar, the former Principal of Jyoti Sroat School for the Visually Impaired, Shillong and the Head of the Bethny on the occasion of World Social Work Day on March 21st 2017 at USTM 9th Mile campus.
Smt Mrinalini Devi is a renound social worker who has not only contributed for the development of the society but also in the field of culture and literature of Assamese society. She is the member of Axom Sahitya Sabha Central Executive Committee. Apart from being a social worker she is a proud mother of five sons and her constant inspiration and education reflected in her children and today all her sons are following their mother’s footsteps and serving the society. The Sadou Axom Lekhika Sangstha has honored her with ‘Adarsha Matri Award’ in recognition for her contribution. Smt Mrinalini Devi is the proud mother of Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Minister for Education, Health and Finance, Government of Assam.
Another awardee of the Social Work Excellence Award 2017 is none other than Sister Bertha G Dkhar, the Principal of Jyoti Sroat School for the Visually Impaired, Shillong. Bertha G DkharBorn with an eye disease (Retinitis Pigmentosa), Bertha G Dkhar completely lost her eyesight while pursuing her Masters in Social Work in Bangalore. With that she also lost her dream of doing psychiatric social work and decided to return to her native place, Shillong. Unfortunately, all her efforts of getting a stable job were futile. To find a meaningful livelihood, she applied for a teaching job in a school, but was denied as people were apprehensive that a blind person could perform a job successfully. Bertha’s struggle for a normal’ life saw her doing odd jobs such as selling jams and pickles. Surrounded by insensitivity from the community, she decided to dedicate her life to provide educational opportunities to the visually impaired. She invented the Braille code in Khasi – a major tribal language of Meghalaya, and was awarded the Padma Shri for her unique model of schooling. Limits in life are only self-imposed. When her hope of living a regular life dimmed with blindness setting in, Bertha was absolutely disheartened. Undeterred by receiving no support from anywhere including the Meghalaya Government, Bertha was convinced that she needed to carve her own destiny. Overcoming all the hardships, today Bertha runs a free school Jyoti Sroat School for the Visually Impaired, a unit of Bethany Society at Laitumkhrah, Shillong that provides a new lease of life to over 100 blind students.
The Chancellor of USTM Shri Mahbubul Hoque after presenting the awards stated that “women are the builders of a nation and they raise the leaders of the society, both of our awardees today are the glaring example and deserves all appreciation and encouragement from us to continue their mission”.