Devanshi’s mother grew up in a small town in Uttar Pradesh with her four sisters in a modest household. When she was 24 years old, she got married to Devanshi’s father who was a CO in the UP police. Three of them were living a happy life but everything shattered when Devanshi’s father was killed in a bomb blast just one year after the marriage. She became a single mother at 25 with Devanshi who was just a few months old. This was a very challenging time for her as her entire life was turned upside down, and her dream of having a happy family was no longer possible. Despite facing difficulties, she worked hard to provide all the basic facilities to Devanshi and give her the best possible life.
As a child, Devanshi was inspired by her father’s bravery and her mother’s actions, and she aspired to be like them by contributing to society. Therefore, at the tender age of 11 when she didn’t even know the meaning of the term ‘social worker’, she began her journey of helping the needy. She started devoting her time to assisting seniors, people with leprosy, dogs, and children.
When Devanshi’s Life Overturned
Devanshi was only 14 years old when a boy asked her out but she declined his proposal, and as retaliation, he hired goons to throw acid on her. “The pain was excruciating, and I was hospitalised for a month with burns on the left side of my body. While the physical wounds faded, the incident left a deep emotional scar on me. People would blame me, saying ‘‘It’s the way you dress; you asked for it!” recalls Devanshi with a heavy heart.
Despite facing blames from society, she found strength in her loved ones. Slowly and steadily, she healed. However, when she turned 18, a family friend molested her. Although she managed to escape, she was too scared to speak up, fearing judgement from society. That incident shattered her completely, and she eventually developed a fear of men. Later, the same man preyed on his own terms. Devanshi realised she had to speak out. “I informed my mother and the entire family stopped the monster. Additionally, I left an abusive relationship, understanding that physical abuse was never acceptable. It made me realise if it could happen to someone who is a pendant, I couldn’t even fathom what would happen to orthodox, uneducated girls,” mentions Devanshi.
When Devanshi Took The Plunge
As she grew older, Devanshi’s determination to make a positive impact on society strengthened. At the age of 26, she registered her own NGO named after her father, ‘Shaheed Ramashrya Welfare Society’. Established with an aim to encourage adoption, help the underprivileged & needy, and spread awareness about mental health, SRWS has come a long way.
The NGO has rescued many girls from prostitution and helped rehabilitate homeless individuals in Bareilly. At the centre, there are more than 500 children whom the NGO teaches self-defence, typing skills, and how to stand up for themselves. “We teach them in a gender-neutral environment. Over the past four years, we have impacted the lives of over a thousand people,” mentions Devanshi with a smile.
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The NGO organises exhibitions and events every year to showcase the talent of the children from the centre. The girls are also awarded a certified diploma. These activities are conducted as a part of the NGO’s campaigns, ‘Aazaadpankh’ and ‘Bhiksha Nahi Shiksha Do’ which aim to empower girls and women from underprivileged backgrounds.
When Vanmayi Came Into Devanshi’s Life
Life had planned one of the best surprises for Devanshi. An angel was about to enter her life with sparkly eyes, a broad smile and an adorable face.
“I met a little girl, Anaika at an orphanage. She was hearing & speech impaired. I arranged funds for her cochlear implant. Watching her get better, I experienced the joy of motherhood for the first time. I’d tell Mumma, ‘I’m meant to be a mother—I can feel it!’
Devanshi registered with an adoption agency and after months of waiting, the first time she saw Vanmayi she fell in love with her. She was tiny, only six months old. Devanshi couldn’t help but feel like Vanmayi was meant to be hers.
Adopting this baby was a gruelling process because she was a single parent. She had prepared Vanmayi’s room long before her arrival. When Vanmayi finally came home, it was the happiest day of Devanshi’s life. Her arrival was like a dream come true. For the past year, she has been providing for three other kids who live in Africa. She talks with them on video calls every weekend.
I was destined to be a mother. I tell Vanmayi, You didn’t come from Mumma’s body, you came from Mumma’s soul. Every time all my four kids call me ‘Mumma’, it erases every sorrow I’ve ever experienced,” says Devanshi with tears of happiness in her eyes.