25-year-old Utkal Maity, who was orphaned on October 29-30 by 1999 super cyclone, life has had many twists and turns, now he is working counsellor in the Society for Children in Bhubaneswar.
Utkal Maiti of Japa village in Jagatsinghpur’s Erasama block, the worst affected area in the natural disaster, lost his parents and siblings to nature’s fury.
The storm had claimed 9,885 human lives, of which Jagatsinghpur alone registered 8,119 losses. In Erasama block, over 6,500 had perished. However, the majority of survivors have rebuilt their lives.
Utkal remembers the tragedy that had fallen upon his family when he was eight. The tragedy has made me stronger. I was deprived of the love and affection of my family. The undulations of life have spurred me to work harder,” said Maity.
“Without the governmental ex gratia and the support from my maternal uncle, I would have been perished on the streets. I lost my father Uttam Maity, mother Sabitri Maity and elder sister Ambika Maity. Tidal waves crashed on land and swept all of us away. I had survived clinging onto a tree. Later, I found myself at Erasama hospital. The government made a deposit of Rs 1.5 lakh as ex gratia in my bank account. Besides, a sum of Rs 75,000 as ex gratia is yet to be granted in the name of my departed sister,” he said.
“My maternal uncle Chandan Manna and the management of Bhubaneswar-based SOS village (a short stay for orphan children) have a done a lot to instil the self-confidence in me to lead my life in good terms,” said Utkal.
For me, the SOS village has become my home. I suffered traumatic disorder following the tragedy. It had sustained for around six month. I was provided counselling to overcome the shock. Then I was able to take life in my stride. I have thoroughly enjoyed the company of my inmates and the environment of the institution. I have completed my schooling, Plus Two arts and graduation course.
“After going through the trauma of losing my near and dear ones, I decided to work for children for which I did my post graduation in social work from a private institution in Bhubaneswar. My dream was fulfilled last year when I got a job as counsellor in the Society for Children in Bhubaneswar,” he said.