50-year-old Jalandhar digs road through hills to see his children | Milaap
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50-year-old Jalandhar digs road through hills to see his children

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A 50-year-old Indian man has singlehandedly scraped though two hills over a period of two years to make an 8 km stretch of road so that he and his wife can meet their school-going children more often.
Jalandhar Nayak, a small-time farmer from Kandhamal district of east Indian state of Odisha, constructed the first stretch of the road all by himself with just a pick axe and crowbar by working from dawn to dusk for two years without a break.  

“At the time of birth of our first child, my wife was home. When she went into labour pain, I tried to take her to the nearby health centre. But we couldn't reach there in time and she had to deliver the baby on the way. It was then the idea of building a road struck me first. I thought to myself, if having no roads in the village is causing us so much of problem to us, it would cause the problem to our children, too,” said Nayak, explaining how he stumbled upon the idea of contracting road.

Nayak’s children spend six days in the school and return home on the seventh day. But trekking though five hills is not a child play, the journey used to make them tired and exhausted. 

“This made me more determined to tear though the mighty mountains to pave way for my children. I didn't want my children to meet the same fate as mine. Hence, I decided to go ahead with the plan of road construction -- with or without anyone's help,” said Nayak.

Local officials told Newslions that they would lay the remaining 7 km of the road, but Nayak seems little convinced. He has already started work on the remaining stretch of 7 km. 

“So far I have been able to cut though two hills to make the first stretch of the road. I have already started work on the remaining part for which I have to cut though three hills. It would take around five years to complete the project. The road is going to make the area's present better and help shape a brighter tomorrow for the people living in and around the area,” 

Nayak is still in the routine that he has been following for the past two years. He would set out every morning with his tools and work there from dawn to dusk everyday cutting rocks and removing boulders. The 15 km-long road will connect Nayak's village to the town where the school is located.

Though the government officials have told the local media that they would take over the road construction work and pay Nayak a daily wage for his two years of hard work, Nayak says he doesn’t know anything about it.

“Nobody has approached me with such a proposal yet. I am not going to wait for any either. I have started this project, I would complete it with or without help,” said a determined Nayak.

As Nayak’s work has attracted the administration’s attention to his village, he is requesting the authorities to also provide village electricity and drinking water.

“I am a little overwhelmed by the kind of response I am getting from the general public and the authorities. It never occurred to me that I was doing a great work. I was just working hard to make sure that my wife and I could see our children and spend some quality time every week or during school holidays. I have heard that the district administration has acknowledged my work and is planning to pay me for the last two years, I spent digging through the hills. If they pay me for this, it is fine. If they don’t pay that is also fine with me” said Nayak.

The happiest of the lot are the three children of Nayak. Ganesh, 12, studies in standard V, says:

"I am very happy. I cannot believe that my father has done all this for us. My friends at school have started to give me special attention because of the feat of my father. Now, they call us the children of the Mountain Man.”

While Jalandhar has been putting his life's efforts into building this road he struggles to make a living. He does not earn any money and still has a family to feed. 

His current Earnings
Jalandhar earned around Rs 200 everyday by selling vegetables or working as a farm labourer. In the past two years, he has earned nothing except for the appreciation for the people. His wife is having a tough time running the family and arranging food for everybody in the family and provide for the education of their children. She has tired to convince Nayak to stop this madness and get back to regular work, but he won’t buzz.

How Can You Help
We are raising funds to help Jalandhar Nayak complete his project under which he intends to scrape through three more hills over a period of five years. He has worked single-handedly for two years to make the first stretch of road that is 8 km long. During this time, there was no source of income for the family as Nayak spent 8-10 hours everyday scrapping through the hills. 

The money we intend to raise will help pay his daily wages for the work he is doing for the society by building the road. If he has more money, he can bring a few other workers on board, get an earth mover to complete the project faster and not toil for 5 years to complete it all by himself.

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