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Despite the trauma of losing her daughter to a road accident, Dorris Francis has been voluntarily managing traffic at the same busy intersection in Ghaziabad for the past five years.
Carrying a broad smile on her face, when an ailing Dorris Francis stepped on the stage, the audience gave a standing ovation to this braveheart mother who was awarded at the 2nd annual international Women’s Day Awards ceremony organized by the Delhi Commission for Women.
69 year old Dorris who is currently suffering from cancer has been aptly called the ‘traffic queen’, as she ecstatically compares managing traffic to meditation. Clad in her fluorescent traffic jacket, with a cap on her head and a whistle in between her lips, Dorris is not a traffic police officer still; yet, she manages traffic at the Aitbar Pushta intersection in Ghaziabad, a suburb near Delhi.
In 2008, when one of Dorris’s daughters succumbed to her injuries after suffering for nine months due to an accident at the very same spot, she decided to not let the demise of her beloved child go in vain. Considering the fact that well-managed traffic that day could have certainly saved her daughter, Dorris vowed and took charge herself, so that no one suffers the same fate again. (And since she took charge nothing of that sort has been reported till date.) It speaks volume of her immense dedication and selfless service. She has also been featured among other ‘unsung heroes’ in a documentary by the BBC. Dorris Francis continues to offer a lesson in humanity. She is a woman of exemplary strength and an inspiration to us all.
Smiling effortlessly in her wheelchair was Swarna Raj, a lesser known face among other extraordinary awardees at this year’s DCW awards. Her legs amputated at the tender age of two, Swarna didn’t quit and took to sports as a career. A para table tennis player, who won two medals for India in the International Para Table Tennis Open, held in Thailand, she is now preparing for the next Para Olympics. Swarna is one of those tough women who did not give in to her disability, but dared to achieve, thereby making the nation proud.
I should make here a special mention of Laila Shah, a transgendered woman from Delhi who got her own share of applause from the present audience. She was awarded for her brave act in opposing and stopping communal riots in Delhi two years back. Laila fought back with all her courage, blocked the colony gate and played a major role in dispersing the angry mob. She was praised for her efforts in setting an example for the rest of the society.
It was not just women who had received applause, a few men in uniform held their heads high too. Delhi Police personnel, including a few male constables were also the recipients for their acts of bravery involving a number of women related cases, where their timely intervention saved the lives of many.
These strong, powerful, daring and enterprising women from all spheres of society were not just the day’s awardees but the torch bearers of change. A change that is exemplary, a change that is revolutionary.
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Top image via BBC documentary Unsung Indians