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Friday, October 22, 2021

Fruit vendor’s daughter defies odds to become a dentist

Today, she is a proud mother as Neelam completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course from the Government Dental College, Jamnagar, this year.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
October 8, 2021 5:14:43 am
Neelam Sharma

Neelam Sharma’s mother has her dream accomplished. A homemaker who saw several hardships, including being scorned for giving birth to two daughters, her mission was to provide a good education for her kids so that they don’t have to face what she did.

Today, she is a proud mother as Neelam completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course from the Government Dental College, Jamnagar, this year.

Neelam comes from a humble background and belongs to a family of six. Her father is a fruit vendor. She grew up in the Maharana Pratap area, an urban slum in Surat, opposite the Old Bombay Market, where her parents–migrants from Uttar Pradesh–and three siblings lived.

However, the hardships did not put an end to their abilities to dream. In 2005, when Neelam was six years old, Navsarjan, an NGO, helped her appear for the Visamo Kids Foundation (VKF) admission test in Surat. The foundation along with individual sponsors and donors funded her education.

“I always aspired to pursue medicine and become a doctor. But I never thought this dream would ever be a reality. Now there is no limit to my happiness after having completed BDS,” said Neelam, who completed her Class 10 from Anand Niketan, Satellite school in Ahmedabad with 88 percent marks in 2014-15. Later, she went on to pursue higher secondary education at St Kabir School, Naranpura.

“I cleared my Class 12 and later opted for the medical entrance examinations, but was left out by one mark for the MBBS cut-off. I was heartbroken but decided to opt for the dentistry course. I am indeed delighted to have completed the course and now, it is a long road ahead. Poor oral health is a grave concern among people who hail from underprivileged sections due to a sheer lack of means, resources and awareness. I would like to do something for my people going forward,” said Neelam.

Looking back at her journey, Neelam credits her mother for the success she has acheived so far in life. “My mother wanted her daughters to get a good education and not face what she did. She would keep searching for ways she could get help in our education. That’s how she came across the foundation and was told about the entrance exam to select children,” explained Neelam, who is currently looking to complete a year-long internship.

Her elder sister is a BCom and BEd graduate in Surat, while her two younger brothers are still school students. “Our family faced several hardships financially, but despite limited means, my mother ensured all her kids received education. My brothers are pursuing their higher secondary education in commerce, while we sisters have already chosen our career paths,” the BDS graduate said.

VKF administrator Ami Shah said Neelam was a role model for the younger girls and boys and acted as a pillar of support to anyone who required counselling. “When she lived at a hostel, she came across as an extremely short-tempered girl. But with the guidance from Manthan Centre for Counselling, she not just learned to keep her cool but also remain focused on her studies,” she said.

Neelam is planning to prepare for higher studies from abroad during her internship. She also has plans to prepare for the NEET entrance examinations to pursue MDS.

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