The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the lives of many, as India still grapples against this deadly virus to avert the spread. In the meantime, with cases going up and hospitals being filled with new patients, a report finds that India is shockingly short of doctors and nurses.
The number of nurses required is 3 per 1000 population, but as per WHO reports, there are only 1.7 nurses per 1000. Even doctors are scarce in different states of India. The WHO reported that the doctor to population ratio is 1:1400 compared to the benchmark ratio of 1:1000 as per WHO.
However, to become something in life, you need to have proper education. Regrettably, not everyone can afford it, especially in rural India, where some girls get married when they hit adulthood, while a few egresses a way out of those complications to pursuing their higher education (rare). The statistics as per MALALA FUND 2020 report that at least 20 million secondary school-aged girls might discontinue their education post the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite having similar kinds of challenges, Charul Honariya, who’s from a village named Kiratpur, made it to AIIMS Delhi, one of the best sought-after medical colleges in India. She has 5 siblings including her, mother Kavita Devi is a homemaker, and her father Soukeen Singh is a farmer.
Speaking to Yahoo India, she shared with us how she worked her way up to get into AIIMS Delhi, one of the most prestigious medical colleges in India.
Dropped For One Year
Charul received her primary education of class 1 to 5 from Primary School, Kiratpur. Later, she went on to pursue her further education of class 6 to 12 at VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, at Bulandshahr, UttarPradesh - a co-ed boarding school that provides education to the economically backward students of rural India. She got into VidyaGyan by taking the scholarship entrance test that was conducted by the school. “It was the turning point of my life, as it opened me to the unknown world and enlightened me (best facilities, supportive teachers, and conducive environment)”, says Charul.
Having an aspiration to get into AIIMS Delhi from the beginning, Charul’s only goal and the dream was to become a doctor. Well, after her schooling at VidyaGyan, she gave the first attempt of NEET in 2019, but unfortunately, couldn't make it to any government college. So, Charul took a year drop to prepare for NEET entrance and took the Dakshana entrance test conducted by Dakshana Foundation, Pune to select students to offer free coaching for NEET and Charul was one of the lucky lassies to receive free coaching for one year at Dakshana.
Aimed for AIIMS
Considering Charul’s financial challenges and the considerable amount of money it takes to pay for medical studies, we asked her what gave her the calling to pursue her higher education. She swiftly replied: “I knew I had no money to afford for coaching and there’s no other chance. So, I was very clear about the vision that I need to do it now itself. I stayed focused at home and studied very hard, and my family members supported me to the fullest.”
During her preparation at Dakshana, she used to be very focused and cleared her doubts from her coaching friends on WhatsApp. “Dakshana didn't leave us midway, instead, they remained in constant touch till the very last day of our preparation, conducted tests, and cleared doubts through online platforms”, added Charul.
Well, she faced some stumbling blocks, where being in the hostel full of restrictions, mobile phones were only allowed on Sundays to talk to her parents. “There were ups and downs at the time of preparation and with my performance, but everyone around me was so comforting and motivating. They filled me up with confidence that I could do it. Plus, my parents' hopes and expectations from me were always a driving force”, says Charul. To overcome exam stress, she used to listen to music, enjoyed reading poetry, and enjoyed the scenic beauty of the campus.
Charul also shared her daily routine while preparing for NEET: “I used to wake up at 6-7 in the morning and studied till lunch. After that, I used to give some tests and discussed some topics in the evening with my friends over the phone.” She further said, “The number of hours spent on preparation was not fixed. Initially, in the year, I was fully enthusiastic. I tried my best to read as much as I can. The average time spent on preparation was 10 hours, but as the exam date came closer, I catered 13-14 hours for preparation.”
On 13th September 2020, Charul gave her NEET entrance which was scheduled between 2 pm - 5 pm. As per the mock tests, she was expecting 620, but after taking the main entrance, she felt confident that she’s going to get more than her mock scores. On 16th October, the NEET results were out but as the site was fully loaded, Charul got to know her result at 9 pm on the same day.
The next day in the morning, she broke the news to her family that she scored 680 out of 720, an All India Rank of 631, and an SC Category rank of 10. When asked what motivated her to study medicine, she said, “I always wanted to be a doctor. The village health facilities are not sound here. They motivated me to do something in the medical field. Vidyagyan gave me those facilities and with Dakshana’s support, I finally fulfilled my dream to be a doctor.”
Soon after the results, Charul appeared for All India counseling for AIIMS, wherein the documents were uploaded online and the colleges were allotted based on our ranks. “The very next day, I got a confirmation letter from AIIMS Delhi”, she cheerfully averred.
Where There's A Will There's A Way
Thankfully, Charul’s parents were supportive despite knowing their financial condition. “I never had to convince my parents. My father, being a graduate himself, always supported my decision. So, he supported my idea of being a doctor too. I knew medicine is an expensive field, but I strongly believed that poverty can’t be an obstacle to my journey. I worked hard, and luckily opportunities knocked my door and I continued to grab them enthusiastically and overcome all hurdles happily”, tells Charul.
Her parents were proud of her achievement and her success was grandly commemorated with villages visiting her home for congratulating her. She received several phone calls from her friends, and relatives followed by plenty of messages wishing her some good luck from across the country. She went saying, “My visit to VidyaGyan after the result declaration was amazing. My father felt so proud of me. It was no less than a festival for me and my family. And yes, we celebrated it, the entire phase is a lifelong cherishable memory.”
On second thought, we asked Charul whether she had any backup plans in case if her score doesn’t meet the expectations. She firmly responded: “If I would have not cleared NEET, I would have dropped for one more year and prepared again or pursued graduation at the University of Delhi.” So far, Charul’s journey to AIIMS was one hell of an achievement. Looking ahead, Charul has not yet made any plans about the medical stream she wants to study. “I find it too early to decide. I would first explore in the initial days of my MBBS'', she concludes.