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Willpower, perseverance triumph over adversity

- Mizoram boy, who lost both his hands when he was nine years old, clears higher secondary exams

Aizawl, May 11: Impossible has no place in the lexicon of 18-year-old Paukhanmunga.

Most people may lose hope after losing both their hands, that too at a tender age of nine. But Paukhanmunga, through his sheer perseverance and indomitable will, decided to carry on with his education and his hard work bore fruit after he passed the higher secondary examination of the Mizoram Board of School Education this year.

Tragedy struck in 2005 after he finished mowing the grass near the electric transformer at Khawkhawn village near the Manipur border in northeastern Mizoram. When he switched on the transformer, the high voltage surge from the machine knocked him down. He said he was asked to mow the grass by his uncle, who was an employee in the power department.

When he regained consciousness, he was in Aizawl Civil Hospital. The doctors had to amputate his hands to save his life. “I lost all hope and the world had ended for me while I was lying in the hospital. Then, a man visited me and wrote something on a paper which gave me the courage to fight on,” Paukhanmunga said.

The man who visited Paukhanmunga in the hospital was Lalchamliana, a popular singer, who had also lost both his hands as a child. “My dear friend Munga, you are a normal person. You can do anything if you have the will,” was Lalchamliana’s message.

The first thing that Paukhanmunga did once he returned to his village after 47 days in hospital was to go back to school. “In the first few months, my friends and teachers took notes for me. But by the year-end exams, I could use my arms to write,” he recalled. When he passed Class X from his village school, it was to the much amazement of all villagers and his family. His mother insisted he give up studies because of financial problems after his father passed away. But he felt that he had the qualification to pursue his dream of further studies.

“Forget relatives, we did not have any friend in Aizawl. But my ambition was to continue higher education there,” Paukhanmunga said.

After running from pillar to post, Paukhanmunga finally approached L. Thangmawia, a college lecturer in Aizawl, who was a native of his village.

The lecturer agreed to provide all possible assistance to the boy to help him get admitted to a higher secondary school.

After some efforts, the Mamawii Higher Secondary School in Aizawl gave special consideration and admitted him even after their seats were full.

Even though Paukhanmunga did not get any compensation from the power department, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has provided him financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per year since 2005 till he passed Class XII. In Aizawl, some generous people and the Zoram Educational Trust (ZET) also provided him financial assistance.

Paukhanmunga lives in a rented house at Mission Vengthlang here with his mother who sells vegetables for a living. “My ambition is to become a graduate and look for a job to feed my family. Side-by-side, I will pursue higher education in university,” he said. His elder brother works in a jhum field in his village.

Given a chance, he wants to become a motivational speaker for physically challenged teenagers like him.